Amboseli Trust for Elephants

April - June 2023

30th June 2023 | Newsletter

Note from our Director

Dear Cynthia,

I took the banner photo above two weeks ago. The females are Hollie and Hatsy, members of the HB family. Seeing them in the green grass with a new calf made me happy. The drought is over, the elephants and other wildlife are recovering. It was a very bad time, but this is a feature of savannahs—times of plenty and times of scarcity. We’ve lived through droughts before and we hate them, but we always find that elephants are amazingly resilient IF they are able to live their lives naturally. With minimal poaching over the last 45 years the Amboseli elephant population is intact, one of the few anywhere in the world. By intact we mean there is a full age range of individuals from newborns to males and females in their 50s and a few in their 60s. This age structure means that when an old matriarch dies there is someone to take over, someone in her 30s or 40s who has been watching and learning from that matriarch. With her knowledge and experience the new matriarch can take over and lead her family with confidence.


More than 200 elephants died during the drought. We haven’t been able to do full censuses on every family, but to date we know that 15 adult females died. Any male who died was found outside the Park and we are still collecting that information. Most of the mortalities were of calves less than three years old. Nature can be very harsh. We have to keep telling ourselves that it is the natural processes that we are striving to conserve.

Cynthia Moss


ATE's Training Program is Back

Learning how to age elephants by tooth eruption and wear; the MEP trainees with Norah

Covid restrictions and then the drought made it impossible for us to have trainees come to stay with us in Amboseli for our very valuable and popular training program, which has been running since 1990. In this program we teach aspiring elephant researchers, rangers, wardens, and others in the conservation field our techniques for studying elephants. In the month of June, we were very happy to restart the program by conducting a specialized training for members of the Mara Elephant Project (MEP). This training covered essential topics such as elephant aging, age determination techniques using jaws, understanding intricate elephant behaviors, and identifying matriarchs in family units.

The MEP team is currently immersed in an extensive project in the Maasai Mara, also focusing on the recognition of individual elephants. By gathering meticulous digital data and using technology to conduct complex analyses, they aim to contribute to groundbreaking scientific research and conservation initiatives. They have already identified over 2,000 known individuals, and they are still finding new elephants as their project continues to expand.


Collaboration lies at the heart of effective elephant conservation. We firmly believe in the power of sharing skills, experiences, and knowledge between organizations. During the training, the young researchers from MEP had the privilege of being mentored by Norah Njiraini, ATE's Training Coordinator, who brings an impressive wealth of experience spanning nearly four decades working with elephants in the field. She was assisted by Tal Manor, who has nearly twenty years of experience working with elephants, ten years with us and before that she worked for ten years at the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. Their combined expertise helps inspire and empower the next generation of Kenyan researchers as well as providing them with the skills they need to develop in their careers. We eagerly anticipate the evolution of their work and look forward to forging even more impactful collaborations in the future. 

The MEP trainees with Norah in the middle: left to right, John Pesi, Sarafina Sironka, Sylvia Odabu, and Amos Oloshiro.

Your support enables us to continue our outreach projects. If you take particular interest in funding Training, Education, and Mentorship programs please contact us on Together, we have a unique opportunity to protect the elephants and preserve their natural habitats for generations to come. Your continued support plays a vital role in fueling our efforts and empowering Kenyan researchers on the front lines of elephant conservation.

Visit our Website

So Many Males

Droughts influence many aspects in the lives of elephants. One of them is to concentrate reproductive activity in a relatively short space of time. Many young calves die in droughts and females stop reproductive cycling. At the same time males cease to come into musth and seek out females for mating. Once a drought is over and the elephants regain condition, many young females just reaching sexual maturity, and adult females whose calves have died or whose calves have reached three to four years old will be available to come into oestrus, and that is what is happening in Amboseli at this time. 


During the drought there were almost no males in Park at all. Now they are everywhere—big musth males guarding females, medium-sized males trying to sneak a mating while the big males fight, and young males watching it all and learning. Every day there is at least one female in oestrus, and she might have as many as 15 males in attendance. It is very entertaining to watch. In about two years’ time we’ll have another baby boom. 

In the photos are four of our musth-age males, ranging in age from 32 to 47 years old. All are fully in the competition.

Zelig, born in 1982, son of Zilla, matriarch of the ZA family.

Vronsky, born in 1976, son Victoria, matriarch of the VA family.

Cynodon, born in 1991, son of Celeste, matriarch of the CB family.

Esau, born in 1990, son of Ella of the EB family.

New Glorious Doug Aja Bronzes

Doug Aja is a brilliant sculptor of wildlife and particularly elephants. We at ATE love his work and we greatly appreciate his generosity in donating half of his sales to our work. Doug is able to capture the personality of each of the individuals. In his latest works he has sculpted Tim and Craig. To find out more about these spectacular pieces and also his new reliefs, contact Doug at:

Facebook  Twitter  Instagram

Thank You to Our Donors

We would like to thank the outstanding donors who generously contributed to our work within the last three months:

Born Free Foundation

California Community Foundation

Laurence B. Dewitt

Jim Finefrock and Hatti Hamlin Family Fund

Lehr Family Charitable Fund

Performing Animal Welfare Society

Washburn Charitable Fund

Ways to Support ATE

Join Elatia

this link is part of the PC family with three new calves in June this year. The PCs are one of the six families you can follow through our Elatia program. When you join you will receive regular updates, which include photos and videos and news of what is going on in the family. To learn more about Elatia go to this link or contact us directly on: 

Name an Elephant Calf

Although some calves died during the drought, many survived and need names. You can name a calf by joining our naming program. The name you give "your calf" forms a part of the Amboseli dataset for all time. For more information write to us at:

Give a Gift that Lasts Forever

Tee-Jay is a cousin of the famous elephants Tim and Tolstoy. They were all born into the TD family. Designate ATE as a beneficiary of your will, individual retirement account, or life insurance policy. To learn more about planned giving, please contact Betsy Swart:

Tel: +1-508-783-8308


Beautiful Edney and her immediate family. One of the ways you can assure their future is to support ATE by making your online purchases through iGive. If you sign up the Amboseli Trust for Elephants as your recipient organization, we will get a small percentage of the sale.

Make a Donation

We use a secure online system on which you can make your donation with a credit or debit card. All donations exclusively support our not-for-profit organization.

Donate now
Facebook  Twitter  Instagram