Victoria Jelinek

Zimbabwe – Elephant with an Identity Problem
December 6, 2006, 5:32 pm
Filed under: Travel pieces | Tags: , , , ,

While on safari in Zimbabwe at the Imire Game Reserve in July of 1995, we came across this elephant who has established herself as a female ruler of the Cape Buffalo herd. Anna thinks she is a Cape Buffalo. At least she’s preferred the company of the buffalo to her own kind for twenty years. Anna was brought to the game reserve at the age of eighteen months with one of her siblings. The sibling died shortly thereafter, and Anna did’nt identify with the other elephants. Instead, she attached herself to a Cape Buffalo herd on the reserve. Anna grew large eventually, and the buffalo realized that she was’nt one of them. At this point, the lead bull challenged her, and Anna, realizing instinctively that she outweighed him by at least a ton, literally squashed him.

This killing was the first of many in the years to come. She had established a matriarchy. A decade ago, the game keepers came to the conclusion that something had to be done to save the bulls and increase the herd! Anna was eventually going to make it impossible to mate because of her defeats and deaths to the bulls who challenged her power.The gamekeepers responded to this crisis by removing the bulls from the herd and taking the females to them singly to mate, so as not to arouse Anna’s suspicions. Later, the fledgling bulls would be taken from their mothers so as not to be at risk, and another herd, with a few select cows, would be created.

Within the last decade, nature itself has compensated for the herd’s losses by producing four male to every one female birth. Nature is incredibly self sustaining, and in the case of Anna and her herd of Cape Buffalo, freakish. To my question of why the Cape Buffalo don’t just ostracize her collectively and take the risk for the greater gain, Paul Ritson, game keep, said, “If you had a loaded gun to your head, would you risk escape?”

1 Comment so far
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this is fascinating. weird weird weird.

Comment by tasha doremus

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