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Olwen was born to Orlanda, an elephant who took over as a matriarch and leader of the her in 1974. She was only 19 years old, which was very young for a matriarch. However, she appeared to be capable and had managed to keep her little family together, including keeping Owen safe. The so-called OA family joined the baby boom. In 1980 two calves were born. Opal gave birth to her first calf, a male, in January. Orlanda gave birth the next month to Olwen. The little family had grown to eight. Olwen and other baby elephants caused great excitement among the OAs since the last newborn calf they had in the family was in 1975. The babies were excessively fussed over, fondled and almost certainly spoiled.
Things were going great, until 4 years later Amboseli experienced one of its periodic droughts, but this one was harsher than most. In 1984, the rains basically failed with only a miserly couple of inches falling during what was supposed to be the wet season. It was sad and depressing watching the calves get weaker and weaker and then disappearing. Their mothers had milk but probably not in great quantity or quality. What really seemed to affect the calves was the lack of suitable vegetation to feed on once they reached the age when they should have started to eat solid food. Many of the calves died, and Olwen’s family also suffered losses. Olwen luckily managed to survive the drought, and grew to be a strong and brave lady and a proud mum of three (2 girls and one boy).
Text: Cynthia Moss & Amboseli Trust for Elephants
Photo copyright: Save the elephants