A video taken by Pondoro guide Rul of a tiny elephant calf during a game drive with guests. Elephants can give birth at any time of the year after a gestation period of 22 months. Newborn elephant calves can weigh up to 120kg. This is a time of huge excitement and the rest of the herd would often encircle the mother to get their first glimpse of the newcomer and get acquainted to its smell. The mother is very protective and a calf would seldom stray more than 30 meters from its mother during the first few years.
Elephants have about 140 000 muscles in their trunks which is similar to those found in the tentacles of an octopus. It takes an elephant calf about 3 -4 months to learn how to control this apparatus properly. They would bend down at waterholes to drink with their mouths until they master the trick of sucking water up their trunks and blowing it back into the mouth. They can be the source of great amusement during this learning period as food and other objects miss their intended target and land on top of the head or brush harmlessly past their ears.
It is difficult to age an elephant calf, but the general rule of thumb is if it fits under the stomach of an adult cow it would be less than a year old. An elephant calf whose back is about half the height of an adult cow would be about 6 years old and one whose back would reach about two thirds up would be around 10-12 years old.
Elephant bulls only reach sexual maturity at 35 years of age. Cows can reproduce from as young as 12 – 15 years.
The young elephant calf destroying the bush was showing off mimicking adult behavior. An angry elephant will sometimes show their strength by running over bushes or throwing and breaking branches as a warning sign to intimidate a potential threat. It is a great example of communication using body language with absolutely no chance of misinterpretation.
Below are 2 photos of this behaviour with an elephant spraying water and another throwing a branch at me.