The so-called HB family was once led by the beautiful and elderly Horatia. Cynthia Moss, a pioneering African elephant researcher in Amboseli, Kenya, identifying elephants, categorising regions and analysing what families they are born into. She also organised each elephant family alphabetically, and every member of that family is named using those letters.
After Horatia’s death, her daughter Hazel took over as the matriarch of the family, a beauty in her own right. Her long straight tusks are exquisite and almost as thick and long as her mother’s once were. Elephants live in family-like herds lead by strong and wise elderly females, and often the genes carry on in the bloodline.
Hazel and her family now live in the western corner of the park as well as in Tanzania. As Amboseli’s elephant population has grown, and as protection for them has increased, elephants have been moving further afield. The National Park is only 390 sq km and yet Amboseli’s population roams over some 5,000 sq km.
Several Amboseli family groups have moved to Tanzania and now live near the village of Tinga-Tinga 20 km south of the border. It is always exciting to see these individuals “on safari” in the centre of the park. Over the years, one or two families have been able to move from the drier west into the more productive central part of the park – in elephant terms this is equivalent to moving into a better neighbourhood, moving up in society. This is because elephants in the central part of the park are more successful in reproductive terms than are those in the west.
Photo copyright and text: Joyce Poole and Petter Granli, Elephant Voices