Anastasia was born in November 1979 to Wart-Ear and belonged to so-called AA family. They were observed and documented by a pioneering scientist Cynthia Moss from Amboseli Trust for Elephant, who was naming each family after a letter of alphabet (after running out of letters, she introduces AA, AB etc.).
On October 3, 1991 Anastasia was witnessed by the Amboseli study team giving birth to a young calf. Although the calf was born healthy, it did not live longer than a month. The loss was not surprising – young first-time mothers often fail to sufficiently take care of their offspring. Anastasia gave birth again later that year, only to be met with tragic demise. In 1996, Anastasia birthed another calf – once again meeting the same sad fate when the calf was born blind and died within two weeks. This was the first record of a blind calf to Amboseli.
Following the natural death of Wart-Ear in 1997, Anastasia and several of her family members broke off into a sub-family called the AC that was led by Abigail, Anastasia’s older sister. The AC family became completely independent and have been surviving well on their own.
Life seemed to be going well for the family, but nature began to show its harshest side. Not enough rain fell for two years in a row and then in the third year, 2009, there was barely any rain at all. Amboseli experienced the worst drought in living memory. People, livestock and wildlife all suffered. Sixty to eighty percent of the cattle died; 83% of the wildebeest, 71% of the zebras and 61% of the buffaloes perished. Over 300 elephants died both from the drought and an upsurge of poaching. Some elephant families fared better than others but there were losses in all the families. The AC family, the offspring of Wart-Ear, actually did better than most, maybe because it was a small family. Both of Wart-Ear’s daughters, Abigail and Anastasia, survived. They only lost one calf and remained with seven members.
Photo credits and text: Cynthia Moss & Amboseli Trust for Elephants