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Born in 1991 to Risa, Ramulosa was a member of the so-called RA family. They were first sighted and photographed in 1973 by Cynthia Moss, a pioneering elephant researcher working along Amboseli Trust For Elephants.
Ramulosa and a fellow female calf born that year were very welcome to the family, especially because the herd just lived through a serious draught in 1984 and unfortunate deaths of calves.
Risa’s daughter was named Ramulosa and the other baby girl was called Ruellia. Both these names were taken from plants that grow in the Amboseli area. The researchers began to run out of ‘normal’ first names and decided to start using themes for naming the calves born in a single year. Thus the 1987 calves were given place names in East Africa, 1991 were plants, and 1992 were rivers in Africa. Pseudorhipsalis ramulosa is a shrubby, epiphytic cactus, freely branching basally with pendant, flat, reddish tapeworm stems up to 2.3 feet (70 cm) long, that turn deep violet red in high light.
In 2000 Amboseli experienced a terrible drought. At times like this the Maasai and the elephants are competing for the same meagre resources, tempers become short, and conflicts occur. Fifteen elephants were speared and nine of them died before the drought ended in December. However, the RAs, under the wise leadership of Remedios, avoided the Maasai and came through the drought unscathed. Ramulosa survived this and then again another terrible drought in 2009, helping RA family to grow strong.
Photo and text credit: Cynthia Moss, Amboseli Trust For Elephants, Kenya Wildlife Service