Estimated to be born in 1975 to Penelope, the family matriarch, Pedro was a member of so-called PA family. The family was first sighted and photographed in 1973 by Cynthia Moss, a pioneering elephant researcher working along Amboseli Trust For Elephants. Up until 1982 the Ps, as they were called then, made up the largest family in the Amboseli (Kenya) population. They weathered the severe drought of 1976 remarkably well including little Pedro. By the end of 1976, by which time Cynthia knew the family fairly well, it consisted of 22 members.
As all males, Pedro grew up in the maternal family until puberty at 12 –15 years – then cows start chasing young males out of the unit. The young males will associate more with other bulls and venture around with them. There is a strict dominance hierarchy among the bulls in a given area, which is acquired and maintained by age, strength and the occurrence of ‘musth’ – a highly hormonal period of mating.
Despite the initial researchers’ assumptions, bulls actually have a complex social organisation. They associate with cow-calf groups randomly and will move between groups in search of oestrus females. Once a bull has found a female he will “test” her urine or genitals, using his trunk tip to carry scent to the specialised gland (Jaboson’s organ) in the roof of his mouth. This testing gives him information on the hormonal state of the cow. The courtship lasts up to a few days, with the bull occasionally mating with the female and guarding her against solicitation of other bulls. Old bulls become relatively more solitary, but still associate with other bulls – and that’s soon to be Pedro’s fate! He is a big impressive bull, successfully fathering calves.
Pedro is a very prominent bull who is mating with females and passing down his mother Penelope’s good genes.
Photo credit and text: Cynthia Moss, Amboseli Trust For Elephants