Happy EleFACT Friday. As seasons change, elephants in the wild often make their way across varying habitats and environments in search of better resources such as water or food. Today, we want to examine some of these migratory patterns.
Both Asian and African elephants migrate annually and seem to follow the same routes. Depending on the environmental conditions, the distances in journeys between different herds can vary. During a prolonged dry season for African elephants, distances were recorded to exceed over 100 kilometers (62 miles). African elephants typically migrate at the beginning of the dry season, between June and November. In search of water and other hospitable locations, they will trek through high temperatures to find rivers and other water sources. As the rainy season arrives, between October to December and March to June, herds will return back to their native regions to be greeted by fresh, green vegetation that the rains helped regenerate in their absence.
Migrations can occur in different ways amongst herds. In some cases, individual family groups may separate themselves from the larger herd, which can be in response to limited food supplies during a dry season migration. If food sources are scarce, it may be more efficient to travel as individual families rather than a large herd. If this migratory method is practiced, the group is usually led by a dominant female in the front and another in the back to guard the rear. The younger members of the herd travel between the two for protection and supervision.
These migratory patterns are necessary for wild elephants to succeed and thrive with the changing seasons. These innate behaviors display the intelligence and proactive natures that elephants have over themselves and their herds.
Photo of Maia, making her way across the habitat