For more than 40 years, Professor Phyllis Lee collected data on 800 different elephants in the Amboseli National Park in Kenya. She discovered something fascinating – the survival of a baby elephant depends on the presence of its grandmother.
Elephants live in large families made up of members of various ages.
What makes an elephant’s grandmother so important?
The oldest female is always seen as the head of the family among elephants. She leads the herd to water and food and looks after her family members should they encounter another family.
Elephants give birth more often when there’s a grandmother present in the family.
It’s the grandmother in particular who protects the baby elephant, keeping an eye on it and helping to remove any obstacles that might appear in their way.
Older female elephants don’t compete with others for food, as often happens with other animals, and they allow the baby elephants to eat first.
Professor Lee says that elephants are incredibly intelligent animals. It takes years and years of study to fully understand them.
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