ANIMAL

QL Enhancing Immunity: The Surprising Ritual of Elephant Motherhood

Enhancing Immunity: The Surprising Ritual of Elephant Motherhood

In Mana Pools National Park, Zimbabwe, a remarkable scene unfolded as a mother elephant inadvertently deposited feces on her baby’s head.

While this act may seem peculiar, local beliefs suggest it serves a purpose beyond mere accident.

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According to wildlife photographer Jens Cullman, this behavior is considered a bonding ritual believed to boost the immune system of the young calf.

Captured through the lens of Jens Cullman, the photographs showcase the intimate moment between mother and baby elephant in Mana Pools National Park.

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The dung-dropping incident, seemingly odd to outsiders, carries cultural significance in the region, where it’s viewed as a vital part of nurturing the calf’s health.

Jens, a 50-year-old German photographer, sheds light on the significance of the captured scenes, explaining, “I’ve heard that when the baby gets dung on it, it helps boost its immune system, and perhaps it’s a form of bonding with the mother as well.”

His documentation reveals the calf’s reaction as it looked towards him, then stood up as the mother turned around, ultimately dropping the dung on the baby.

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Beyond the endearing moment captured, there’s a sad reality lurking. Jens unveils the harsh conditions the mother elephant faces, describing her as “very skinny” due to a severe dry season wreaking havoc in the park.

This drought has led to the demise of numerous elephants and other wildlife, highlighting the struggle for survival amidst nature’s unforgiving challenges.

Despite the adversity, Jens admires the resilience of the mother and baby elephants. He witnesses their relentless search for food during the arduous dry spell, emphasizing their determination to endure.

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“I followed them because I appreciate these two elephants,” Jens remarks, reflecting on the enduring bond between mother and calf.

In further elaboration on the captivating behavior captured, Jens explains, “When the baby gets dung on it, it serves to enhance the baby’s immune system, and perhaps it also forms a kind of bonding with the mother.”

This ritual, steeped in tradition and biological significance, showcases the intricate dynamics of elephant motherhood.

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The scarcity of the challenging dry season forces the mother and baby elephants to dedicate their entire day to foraging for any available sustenance.

Despite the hardships, their unwavering resilience and the unique rituals of elephant motherhood continue to captivate observers amidst the harsh realities of survival in the wild.

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