Saturday, July 13, 2013

Maasai Mara : Elephants And Monkeys

One animal that really fascinates me is the Elephant. Most people are not aware how intelligent and emotional elephants are. The African Elephants live in a tightly knit family led by a matriarch. Babies and calves are at the center of the family's attention. Their intelligence is comparable to apes and dolphins, but emotionally they are perhaps the most advanced of all the wild species. They have been recorded to show remarkable altruistic behavior, and showing empathy not only for other elephants, but towards humans and other animals too. Elephants show self-awareness, as well as a great understanding of life and death. They grieve their dead, exhibit some sort of burial rituals and remember their family members forever. They are friendly and caring animals. Very unusual for a wild species.

In the outskirts of Nairobi, is an Elephant Conservatory which takes in orphaned baby elephants, raise them and then release them back in wild. Most common reason for them losing their mother is poaching. For ivory. Its really heartbreaking to see the wobbly walk of this 2 month old motherless calf. It still needs a blanket to help regulate its body temperature.

There are so many of orphans. Elephants are a "keystone species", necessary for protecting the environment. Hence the conservation efforts are essential.

They are taken good care of. But they are not allowed to get too friendly with humans, as they have to go back to the wild, and then stay away from potential poachers.

Growing up in India, I have had many opportunities to see and touch an elephant. But seeing them in wild, freely enjoying their life, protecting their young in their in large families is a wonderful experience.

A solitary elephant, probably a male, as the adolescent males leave their family to start their own.

This is a small family, with babies born perhaps an year apart.

Elephants make excellent photographic subject!

We came across a fairly large family, with many babies in all sizes.

They were happily playing with each other for a while. Such a magnificent creature, and we humans kill it just for its teeth so that we can make some trinkets!

It was obvious who was the matriarch. She was the largest and never took her eyes off us.

Once more and more safari vehicles started arriving to see them, the matriarch got uncomfortable and quickly led her family away.

For more photos of elephants, check out the set on Flickr.

Comparable to Elephants, Monkeys also display intelligence and care for their young. But it's more obvious to us, as they look a lot like us.

They are also pests and create quite a bit of nuisance. Apparently they love the honey from the flowers of this plant, "golden shower".

One was curious enough to check out what's in my tea cup :-).

Not finding it tasty, it ran away.

The next is a baboon, a very aggressive and dangerous creature.

The colobus monkey is quite good looking.

You can click on any photo to start a slideshow.

For more photos of monkeys, check out the set on Flickr.

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