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Born in 1993 to a young family matriarch Louise, Lengai 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 Lengai’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, Louise’s ’93 was named for Lengai, an active volcano in Tanzania.
Lengai spent his childhood years with the family, but as all young males he eventually went independent. Some male elephants break out of the family as young as 9-10 years, others as old as 19-20 (these are called “Mama’s boys”), but the average age is around 14. This is a very risky time for young males. As they are gradually going independent they venture off on their own and run into trouble, such as getting too close to Maasai settlements or cattle herds.
While males may not form the same kinds of close-knit friendships as female-led groups, research has proven that male aggregations are far from random. The older males mentor the youngsters and guide them through the adult world.
Photo credit and text: Cynthia Moss, Amboseli Trust For Elephants, Save The Elephants