The day before tomorrow

27 oct. 2012

If there’s never another tomorrow

And the sun fell asleep with the moon

Do you have any idea what it would do with you

If you would only have one day

If there’s never another tomorrow

If there’s never again tomorrow!

Majestic they crossed over the plains of Amboseli National Park. About 260 different groups of elephants of a total of 26 different progeny families. All since the 1970s, followed extensively, studied and mapped by the Amboseli Trust for Elephants, founded by Cynthia Moss. Each family has a name beginning with a letter from the alphabet. The most famous is the E-family, as in Echo of the Elephants, as these family elephants have been documented in at least three parts, filmed and appeared on TV worldwide.

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Amboseli National Park

Qumquat of the so-called Q family, was born in 1969 and has been part of research for all elephants living in Amboseli, for decades, performed by the Amboseli Trust for Elephants. Each family has a name beginning with a letter from the alphabet. Although the Q family is not so widely filmed they are certainly no less interesting. Qumquat was the queen, the matriarch of this family. Queen because of her graceful appearance. Over the years, Qumquat has received several babies. The first in 1981, but this calf died 3 months later due to unknown cause. In 1983 she got daughter Quince, also she died due to unknown cause. In 1991 and 1996, Qumquat received 2 sons, Quinine and Qtip. In the years 1976-1988, the Q-family was in the forefront of their existence. The mother of Qualida and sisters of Qumquat, their children, grandchildren, and Qumquat with her children formed a numerous close family. None of the adult elephants, matriarchs, died in these 22 years. The Q family received noticeably many daughters, usually the number of males versus females in equilibrium, with this family not. The cause of that is unknown.

One of Qumquat’s sisters decided to split up from her family and formed with her children her own family. This breakdown proved to be permanent and the Amboseli Trust brought them now as a QC-family. In 2007, the cousin of Qumquat fell into a water well at the Sinya mines. She was eventually saved but was injured too much to be reunited with her mother Quaratina and the Q-family. Sinya, named after her site, lives now in David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in the Voi Unit located in Tsavo East.

kenia 2007-1 151
Chyulu, Lempaute, Sinya and Lesanju at DSWT

During the heavy drought of 2009, 6 key members of the Q-family died, including Qumquat’s mother. The only adult bull named Quaboos, had also disappeared, he had become a victim of poaching! But an even greater extraordinary tragedy occurred to the Q- family. A part of the Q family (the part that Sinya belonged to before she fell into the pit) had split up due to the constant drought and had just gone across the border to Tanzania. In Tanzania they came into conflict with people who haunted the whole herd litterly to the edge of a cliff, so that they dropped off into a ravine. Heavily injured 6 Q-family members lay in the ravine where they were shot, even the 5-year calf was not spared. Deeply tragic as the Q-family had lost 12 family members in 1 year!

Now that her entire family was so deeply hit by these enormous tragedies, Qumquat became as oldest adult the matriarch. After the extreme drought in 2009, Qumquat was pregnant. Shortly thereafter, her daughter, Quantina, also became pregnant of her first baby.

October 12, 2011:

After the long extreme drought this year, the long-awaited rains finally broke out. Qumquat gave birth to a beautiful female. This birth, this calf, was the first calf born after the rain of 2011 and the first of a whole “baby boom” that would follow in Amboseli National Park.

qumquat, quaye, quantina en quanza 1 week oud
Quanza 1 week old with her mother Qumquat and sisters Quaye and Quantina                                   (photo Amboseli Trust for Elephants)

A few months later in April 2012, daughter Quantina gave birth to her firstborn, a son.  Quantina was a proud first time mother. Grandmother Qumquat accompanied her daughter with her new role, motherhood. The 9-year-old Quaye was the proud sister and aunt and loved to be the nanny to both babies. Qumquat’s family had a very strong mutual relationship. They were a beautiful loving little family. Qumquat with her royal appearance, wise, gentle, loving. The Q-family were called “Big Tuskers” all had impressive tusks. Qumquat had beautiful long thin tusks that could almost hit the ground and crossed each other. Quantina (13) and Quaye (9) also had clearly visible tusks, promising for the future, though it would take years before they would be as beautiful as their mother’s. Qumquat’s youngest daughter sometimes put her little trunk on Qumquat’s tusks like a child giving her  mother a hand. After the big loss in 2009 and the births 2 years later, the future seemed to turn the right way for the Q family. No one could imagine what tragedy hung them over the head.

quanza 4 mnd
Quanza 4 months old

Over the last years 2009-2011, the price of ivory, despite all protective measures, despite passed laws, and all measures taken by the protection organizations have increased sharply.

The cause? The continuing demand for ivory of the Asian market. The Asians use illegal poachers by giving them a few thousand dollars for their financial support as reward for poaching. Or, for example, they donate money to set a road and use this for themselves as a free letter to let the area be empty, stray. The poachers, often poor people, are unfortunately not always strong enough to hold on to moral principles, and laws, they only see the money, the reward for which they choose.

The animals, the elephants pay the highest price, their lives, and that is irreversible! Since 2011, the number of illegally killed elephants is growing enormously. The number of orphans who were brought into David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust grows. In October 2007, there were 8 nursery homes! Orphans under 2 years. October 2012 there were 28 under the care of the DSWT nursery!

Humans are working on further protection, purchase of protected land, stricter laws, additional ranges to be better trained, more anti-stroke teams, sharpened controls at airports. Without all protected measures, there would be no more elephants and rhinos living in the wild today.

The elephants in Amboseli were fortunately saved fairly. Only Farnella (of the F-family) became a victim of poachers in July 2012. Her half-albino calf Faraja was transferred to the elephant’s orphanage, because it was not an option to leave him with the rest of his family. His sister Flickr did very well for him but had no milk to feed him, without any milk he would die anyway. This blonde elephant with its white hairs (instead of black), light skin, light eyes, and blonde tassel on the tail is happily thriving successfully in the elephant’s orphanage.

October 27, 2012

With her daughters and baby grandson, Qumquat experienced a wonderful day on the plain of Amboseli, which has been home for many generations for decades. As a family, they are delighted to see. Gracefully, they move on through the landscape. Qumquat little daughter played lovely with her nephew, Quaye hugged her little sister lovingly. Quantina was a proud young mother and Qumquat the wise, proud grandmother and mother, in the flowering of her life. Life was beautiful, they were beautiful, beautiful natural creatures. Nature photographer Nick Brandt encountered Qumquat and her family and made some beautiful pictures of them. The friendly Qumquat made it easy for this photographer, a human being, to easily come close to her family without problems. Nick Brandt was very pleased with his recordings. Thanks to the cooperation, almost, of Qumquat and her daughters, he had made beautiful images this afternoon. He could not imagine how wonderful his beautiful recordings would be. Nobody could then suspect that the world was in a couple of hours.

qumquat and family de dag voor hun dood
Qumquat, Quanza, Quaye, Quantina and baby Q, the evening before the tragedy took place.                      Photo made by Nick Brandt

If there will never be another tomorrow ….

27-28 October 2012

In the night or early morning, in the dark a number of muted shots, cold and dull sounded. Three gigantic emergent trumpets, shrill, hard, so terrifying from the deepest of their heart. Birds flew in a hurried way, shortly afterwards 3 dull claps as if something was over, and then nothing more …  just a dull silence.

What followed immediately was the jerking sound of chain saws and axles. And no one who saw what drama was happening here …

No one at all?

Yet there was one eye-witness of what was happening that night on the plain of Amboseli.

In the morning of 28th of October, Vicki Fishlock, a member of the Amboseli Trust for Elephants, received a warning from the KWS Rangers (Kenian Wildlife Service). The rangers had a shocking discovery. During their patrol, they were stunned on a so-called horror scene. Arrived on site, the staff of Amboseli Trust for Elephants were faced with a more than horrible sight. Three killed elephants lay down completely mutilated on the plain in front of them. Mutilated because the elephants missed all three their full face. A little elephant stood behind her mother’s body to brush her back. The little loving trunk really left no place untouched.

“Mom, I’ll stay with you …”

The members of the Amboseli staff, who alphabetically charted all the Elephants of Amboseli per herd, recognized the little elephant and recognized the identity of this family in the mutilated bodies of the three killed elephants. This was the Q family. The mother and also matriarch were Qumquat (1969), the other were her two daughters Quantina of 13 years and Quaye of 9 years. The little traumatized elephant was Qumquat’s youngest daughter of just 1 year. She was the only witness to this tragedy. She saw how her mother and sisters were shot down and in addition she saw how they were robbed of axes and chainsaws from their faces.

All because of the ivory tusks for the Asian market so that they can make decoration, figurines and more of such nonsense. But with this family, another baby heard, the 6-month-old son of Quantina, who was nowhere to be seen. Most likely he had run away in panic. A search for him was immediately launched. The youngest daughter was guided by her family’s horrible sight, awaiting the DSWT keepers who would pick her up. In a few hours the life of this innocent family, of this little baby elephant, was completely destroyed. In the elephant’s orphanage she would have a whole different life, but a good life, it’s her only chance of a good life.

quanza,s redding
Quanza’s rescue by DSWT

In the night of 27 to 28 October, 5 lives were taken, For 4 of them there will never be another tomorrow Quantina, s 6 month old son was no longer found … Qumquat’s youngest daughter was given a new chance at the DSWT elephant’s orphanage, but the question was more if she would die of sadness after the trauma she has exposed to. She had seen how her whole family was murdered and mutilated, and everyone was lost. DSWT gave her the name Quanza, meaning 1st because she was the firstborn of a whole baby tree that followed in Amboseli after the 2011 drought, and because she was the only survivor of her family, the Q family. Surprisingly, little Quanza turned out to be a fighter despite her trauma, sorrow, mourning process, she accepted the bottles of milk that were held for her. She quickly dumped her and then ran away quickly from her human caregivers, as far as she was surrounded by the other orphans.

quanza and sonje 18-02-2013
Quanza at DSWT with Sonje

She was scared for the keepers as they were humans, and humans murdered her family. After 2 weeks, Quanza was able to join the whole herd of 26 orphans, the keepers were a little less creepy and she became eager to the milk they gave her. Time will show how it goes on with the little Quanza.

quanza 22-2-2013
Quanza at DSWT

 

 

Qumquat F 1969 her children

Qum11 F 10-11 (QUANZA!)

QUM06 M 3-06

Quaye F 12-02

Qantina F 11-99

(Qum 12 M 04-12)

Qtip M 6-96

Quinine M 12-91

Quanza is the only survivor of this family!

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