How I became an elephants mother.
November 2002 by Lek
I have been working and researching elephants in the wild for more
than ten years. I have slept, eaten and stayed together with them in
the lush jungles of my home in mountains. I have used this time to
follow their groups and record their behaviour in their natural
habitat as they are together with their herd. I found their social
order totally amazing, how they cared for each other and the closeness
of their relationships and their complex ranking structure. Ever keen
on photography I relished my meetings with them and filmed this animal
which has fascinated me for the greater part of my life. Their
demeanour is a gentle one. A creature full of love, intelligence and
caring to fellow herd members.
I loved watching mother elephants show their affection and deep
love to their playful babies. I have seen births in the jungle and I
also have acted as an elephants midwife for the elephant two times.
My greatest experience and privilege was as a midwife for an
expectant mother elephant name "Mae Boon Num". She had been a domestic
logging elephant but was later released back to the jungle. This was
her second baby and she seemed so calm when giving birth. A treasure
to watch. It was 1:00 am when she produced a healthy beautiful little
boy. I helped the mother to clean and lift him up showing him where is to
get his mothers milk.
I gave him the name "Jungle boy " because he born in the middle of
the jungle and he belongs to the jungle. He was very healthy, hairy
and he had the most adorable little blue eyes and pinkish trunk.
When he could first walk he would run between his mother and me. We
really enjoyed playing with each other. At times Jungle boy would run
and knock me then turn to lie down on the top of me. He was a very
When the mother feed the baby she is sensitive and more patient
usual with the naughty calf. The baby elephant will drink milk, then
run off to play until exhausted when they lie beside their mother.
Ever caring she will take a tree leave to chase the bugs of her
offspring and watches over the calf until they awake.
The elephant mother teaches her calf by natural lesson. Firstly she
shows the baby how to use the trunk to pick up food. It takes time to
master as this limp appendage is uncoordinated and difficult to use.
Next the youngster will be given a much loved mud bath then taught to
use their feet to dig the roots. The little student will try to use
the trunk to lift food, getting it wrong more often than not. The
mother will use her own trunk to give a naughty youngster a slap when
discipline is needed.
While watching them I can see the great love between them,
reminding me of my own great mother. I wonder if I had a chance of
motherhood could I be a great one like my mother or this loving
Then something totally unexpected happened. I received an urgent
phone call from a Karen tribal family. They asked me to help them
rescue a little baby elephant born just three days previous and whose
mother was dead. ....