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Nairobi (AFP) – An elephant in Kenya has given birth to twins, an extremely rare event, conservationists said Thursday.
Conservation group Save the Elephants said the twins – a man and a woman – were born to a mother named Bora.
They were first spotted by lucky guides on a weekend safari drive in the Samburu reserve in northern Kenya.
Videos show the day-old newborns adjusting to their savanna environment with their doting mother and an older sibling, Bora’s first calf, who was born in 2017.
African elephants have the longest gestation period of any living mammal, carrying their young for almost 22 months and giving birth approximately every four years.
“Twins are rarely found in elephant populations, accounting for only about one percent of births,” said Iain Douglas-Hamilton, founder of Save the Elephants, in a statement.
However, elephant twins often don’t fare so well. The last pair of twins born in Samburu in 2006 did not survive more than a few days.
“Often, mothers don’t have enough milk to feed two calves,” Douglas-Hamilton said.
“The next few days will be up and down for the new twins, but we’re all crossing our fingers for their survival.”
According to the country’s first national wildlife census, conducted last year, there are an estimated 36,280 elephants in Kenya.
That number represents a 12 percent increase in the population in 2014, when the killing for ivory was higher.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) warned last year that poaching and habitat destruction, particularly through conversion of land for agriculture, had had a devastating impact on elephant populations across Africa.
The population of African savannah elephants has plummeted by at least 60 percent over the past half-century, leading them to be listed as “Vulnerable” in the latest update of the IUCN “Red List” of Threatened Species.
© 2022 AFP