An elephant calf has been filmed alone, after its twin died in a severe drought gripping northern Kenya.
The incredibly rare elephant twins were first spotted in January this year, in the Samburu National Park.
Twins form only one percent of all elephant births, meaning the find caused quite a stir among research groups at the time. Conservation charity Save the Elephants has been monitoring the twins ever since.
It is incredibly rare for elephant twins to survive in usual circumstances, as mothers do not usually produce enough milk for two calves. However northern Kenya is currently in the grips of one of the worst droughts ever seen, creating added pressure.
A stock photo shows two elephant calves. One elephant twin in Kenya has died in the drought.
On October 19, Save the Elephants said on Instagram that teams spotted the mother—known as Bora—with just one of her twins. The other twin was nowhere to be seen, meaning it likely that it passed away.
“While this news is incredibly sad, we are all very impressed by how Bora and the Winds family have managed to keep at least one of the calves alive during this terrible drought,” David Daballen, Director of Field Operations at Save the Elephants told Newsweek.
“There is very little food in the park and surrounding areas due to overgrazing by livestock which means it’s very difficult for Bora to produce milk to feed her babies. However, with the support and wise guidance of her family, she’s managed to keep the male alive for nine months.
“Bora is only a young female so needs her family during this difficult time. We are all praying for rain and hope the young male will survive the next few months and go on to live a long and healthy life.”
Footage shows the remaining twin standing alone in an area outside the Samburu National Park. The mother can be seen standing nearby with other elephants in the herd.
Both twins were last seen alive in April this year. Due to the remote location of the Samburu National Park it is difficult for teams to track the elephants.
While it is not certain how the missing calf died, teams are continuing search efforts to further investigate.
Elephant calves have little chance of survival without their mother if they are under two years old.
Elephant mothers are also extremely protective of their young, and calves often stay within their herd for life. This makes it incredibly unlikely that the missing calf would have wandered off on its own.
According to Save the Elephants, the severe drought, coupled with overgrazing by livestock has created a “catastrophic shortage of food for elephants and other wildlife in the north.”
“Many species have died as a result and we still hold fears for Bora’s remaining calf. We will keep an eye on Bora and the surviving twin and update you as and when we can,” the charity said on Instagram.