Elephant Blog

Observed by Cynthia Moss first time during the launch of the innovative Amboseli elephant research, Penelope was presumed the matriarch of the later called P group, because she usually led the group and the others seemed to orient towards her. The next largest was a left one-tusk animal called Phoebe. One of the teenaged females had been named Pick, because she had a funny little right tusk, and appeared to be Phoebe’s daughter.

During a later baby boom in Amboseli in 1979-80, the Ps began to increase and over the next three years despite some deaths, they grew to 29 animals from 22. By this time they were beginning to split up more often, but there did not seem to be much consistency in the splits. Phoebe and Pick were always in the same sub-unit; another indicator of their close relationship. Later, it looked as though Penelope became the leader of one group and Phoebe another. As indeed by 1983 some sort of elephantine decision was made and the Ps basically split in two. There were two clear-cut families: Penelope’s, which continued to be designated the PAs, and Phoebe’s, which became the PCs. The two families formed a bond group as they still spent some time all together and greeted each other when they met. Phoebe got to live to a very old age and enjoy many grandchildren.

Text: Cynthia J. Moss
Photo copyright: Jeannie Burleson