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Getting to Know the Animals of Mpala:

From Jonah Hart’s interview with our partners at Mpala comes a 4th installment of Field Guide notes on African Wildlife. Today we take an in-depth look at their work with African elephants. 

Hopefully you’ve been watching the African Wildlife Cams, our newest project in partnership with the Mpala Research Centre in Lakipia, Kenya. We’ve been getting to know the different species of animals in the area and today we’re talking about our personal favorites: Elephants!

These incredible and noble Elephants are great to watch on the cams. Whether it’s the so-cute-I-might-pass-out babies or watching their joyful nature as they relish playing in the water, they are always a treat to see.

Mpala has a dedicated Elephant Team that for years has been tracking and researching the Elephants we see on the cams. Most of the Elephants in the area are short-tusked, which we learned is better for them because they have less risk of poachers craving their ivory. The Elephant team is excited to get around the clock viewing access on these herds and all you Citizen Scientists can help! The researchers at Mpala are hoping to learn more about certain kinds of family behaviors. Valerie Mae, Executive Producer of Mpala Live! recently told us two stories that perfectly illustrate what they are hoping to discern.

On one glorious day Valerie and another scientist saw a male elephant having a grand old time playing around in a mud wallow. At some point, the big guy got himself stuck and could not get loose. A few of his family members came over to him and just watched (can you imagine!). Valerie said, “It was almost like they were laughing at him.” After struggling for some time, he eventually got himself out and the Elephants moved on. Another scientist at Mpala has a similar, but very different story. He saw a young Elephant get stuck and some female Elephants came and wrapped their trunks around it and helped it wiggle loose (again…can you imagine!).  Researchers don’t know why each was treated differently. If you see Elephant families interacting in interesting ways, take some snapshots and have fun watching these wonderful animals!

Check out this adorable baby elephants blowing bubbles in the watering hole (mom isn’t so crazy about the shenanigans!)

See elephants and more on the African Wildlife Live Cams at explore.org.