03 Oct 2017 Elephant siblings by Chloe Grotto
How many of us know the joys and terrors of having siblings? Just as we humans experience the laughs and major headaches our siblings give us, elephants get to enjoy the same love-hate relationships as well.
In the Camp Jabulani herd, there are multiple pairs of siblings. Limpopo and Pisa are the two daughters of Tokwe, Klaserie the daughter of Setombe, Mambo the son of Lundi, and Zindoga the son of Bubi. The herd even has some adoptive siblings. Tokwe adopted Kumbura when she was introduced to the herd, and most recently, gave little Timisa a welcome into the family that was just as heartwarming. These siblings may not have the typical elephant herd structure or normal upbringing, but then again, what family is ever “normal”?
You can tell with just a quick observation at elephant swim or a walk through the bush who is getting along that day. No matter where you spot little Timisa, Kumbura is no more than a few feet away from her baby sister. These two do everything together, from feeding in the bush to swimming at the local watering hole. Kumbura makes sure that before her little sister jumps into the water, that she wraps her own trunk around Timisa’s stomach, which makes the perfect floatation device so the little one can practice her strokes!
Next to Kumbura and Timisa you are sure to find Limpopo and Klaserie flopping over each other in the water. These two girls LOVE relaxation! If you see an elephant laying down in the watering hole or even in the cool sand on a hot summer day, it is most likely Klaserie or Limpopo. The two girls play their older sister cards often, thinking they are mature enough to tell the young ones where to go and what to do. It’s almost social suicide if the young Pisa were to come share the same tree as them! Limpopo reminds her younger sister quickly who is the first born and insists she feeds at a tree a little further away. Pisa doesn’t mind though, because she is the ‘tom boy’ of the group and is much more interested in rough housing with the young boys, Mambo and Zindoga.
Pisa leaves Klaserie and Limpopo to their “browsing gossip” and trots on over to the boys who are having a good old play spar. Mambo and Zindoga are the two best friends anyone could ever hope to have and love testing each other’s strength. Though Zindoga has a few years on Mambo, the two are almost equal in height and weight, making their wrestling matches so close to even, it’s hard to tell who will win! Pisa looks on for a while as the boys tussle back and forth, but as soon as there is an opening between them, she dashes in and begins to spar with one of them. The sight is comedic as the three young elephants try to run into one another at the same time. One is bound to hit their head a little too hard and has to sit out the next match until the ‘cartoon stars’ stop swirling around their head.
At the end of the day, the little ones all come together to follow their parents and elephant keepers back to the stables for a good night’s rest. Mambo and Zindoga, tired and a bit banged up from the day of wrestling, rest against each other for support as they make their trek home. Pisa bounces between Klaserie and Limpopo, who have decided to stop acting “too cool” and let their little sister hang out with them. Kumbura heads up the back of the herd, pushing her little sister Timisa along gently, as the groggy baby drags her feet sleepily. Once they have reached home, everyone gives each other a quick trunk touch to say goodnight and wanders off to their beds, to dream of the next day’s adventures with their best friends.