Born in 1993 to family matriarch Libby, Longonot was a member of the so-called LC family, who were first sighted and photographed in 1975 by Cynthia Moss, a pioneering elephant researcher working along Amboseli Trust For Elephants.
By the time of Longonot’s birth, Cynthia and her fellow researchers ran out of the more common western first names and started using themes. For the 1993 calves they have used East African hills and mountains. Thus, Libby’s ’93 calf was named after a mountain in the Rift Valley called Longonot.
In 2011, after a sever drought and a loss of matriarch, Longonot’s mother Libby took over as a family leader. At the age of 39, she was very experienced and expected to successfully lead her family. More calves followed in recent years – and Longonot who as a daughter of the matriarch has a potential to be a leader in the future.
The matriarch is the pivot around which everything revolves: she keeps the unit together and defends it; she has the most acquired knowledge of spatial and temporal resource distribution. She therefore makes major decisions as to movements: daily, seasonal or annual, migration patterns, home range etc. Sudden loss of the matriarch will lead to disruption of the family and can put the members in danger.
Photo and text credit: Cynthia Moss, Amboseli Trust For Elephants, Save The Elephants