In a celebratory moment for conservation, an elephant has given birth last week to twin calves at a national reserve in northern Kenya. The rare phenomenon came as a pleasant surprise for the tour guides who spotted the twins while out on safari at the Samburu reserve.
The pair are only the second set of twin calves ever to have been encountered in the region, reports the BBC. According to the local conservation charity Save the Elephants, twins account for only 1 percent of elephant births, with the last known case dating back to 2006.
Charity founder Dr. Iain Douglas-Hamilton told Reuters that the twins were at a critical time in their lives. This is because the mothers often don’t have enough milk to feed both calves, which is why everyone has their “fingers crossed for their survival.”
Every elephant birth is worthy of celebration among conservationists. African elephants have the longest gestation period of any living mammal. They carry their babies for 22 months before giving birth, and they have a long gap between calves (four to five years).
Poaching and habitat loss have led to elephants being listed as an endangered species on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Red List. However, thanks to determined conservation efforts, elephant numbers in Kenya have increased significantly in recent years.