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KZN family’s once-in-a-lifetime elephant birth sighting

Published Nov 29, 2016


Durban - Experiencing “nature at its best” was how a Richards Bay family described watching an elephant give birth at the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park in northern KwaZulu-Natal.

Magdalene Collum Deetlefs and her daughter, Katelyn, went to the park on Saturday for a day trip.

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Deetlefs said the iMfolozi side of the park was surprisingly quiet. She thought it was most likely because of the cool, overcast and drizzly weather.

“We had wonderful, close-up sightings throughout the morning, but nothing could prepare us for what we stumbled upon next,” she said.

Deetlefs came across a herd of elephants that seemed happy with the cooler weather because they were enjoying the gorgeous greenery from the recent fall of rain.

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After admiring the herd for a few minutes, Deetlefs decided to move on.

They drove on only a short way away from the main herd. As they came around the next bend, less than 5m from the road, in a rather dense thicket, they saw three elephants huddling together and moving around slowly.

“My daughter suddenly noticed a large amount of blood on one of the elephant’s legs. This stumped us for a few seconds, until the elephant turned around. We were able to see the afterbirth hanging from the elephant, which answered all our questions!

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“We couldn’t believe our luck, this elephant had just given birth,” she said.

Deetlefs said although the birth happened in a very short time in the herd, it was nonetheless a moment to savour.

The baby elephant, only minutes old, tried to find its bearings. Deetlefs said it was a once-in-a-lifetime sighting.

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“It seems the herd’s matriarch was with the new mom, as well as another elephant, which we assumed to be the mother’s sister. The three of them were huddled over the baby and constantly reaching out to it with their trunks. We could hear gentle rumblings from the elephants, very soft and soothing rumblings, as if they were comforting the new-born calf.

“Katelyn and I were so privileged to experience Nature at her best,” Deetlefs said.

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