Elephants are the largest land animals in the world.
They live in herds led by the oldest females in the group, as living in the community gives them easier access to food, shelter and security.
But elephants are very impatient when traveling in groups.
Recent research has shown that the herd does not stop even when the female gives birth to a calf.
In order to find enough food and water for everyone, they have to move all the time.
Elephants have adapted to this over the years.
Female elephants have the longest pregancy of all mammals – as much as 22 months. That’s almost two years!
The calf is born fully developed and is immediately able to move on its own.
How did scientists discover that the mother and calf stay with the herd?
They used collars to monitor the direction and speed of their movement. They then calculated the average speed of individual females and examined whether it changed before, during, and after giving birth.
The average speed of the herd or pregnant mother never changed significantly.
Even the oldest female leading a herd can give birth to a calf. This is further proof of how strong female elephants are.Dr. Lucy Taylor, lead author of the study
The researchers performed the measurements near a nature reserve, where elephants are safer and therefore move more slowly.
If the herd faced danger, it would probably be faster. An exhausted mother with a calf would find it harder to follow her. It could cost them their lives.
Points To Consider
- Do you know any other animal that lives in a group?
- Which animals are dangerous to elephants?
- Where do elephants live?
The original version of this article was published on June 17th.