For the first time in nearly 16 years, an elephant in Samburu has given birth to twin calves.
The rare calves - male and female - were noticed in Samburu National Reserve a few days ago and were the first to be recorded there since 2006, said research and protection group Save the Elephants announced.
The wildlife sanctuary is located in eastern Samburu County.
Bora, the mother of the twins, is from a family of elephants known as Winds II.
"Exciting news, Elephant twins have been born in Samburu National Reserve," Save the Elephants announced. "During the weekend, Bora from the Winds family gave birth to two elephant calves -male and female - at around a day old, exploring their surroundings," Save the Elephants said.
The birth came as a pleasant surprise to the organisation, which monitors the family of elephants in the reserve. The discovery was made by guides from the Elephant Watch Camp on January 16.
They alerted researchers, who confirmed that the calves are a male and a female.
Elephants are able to give birth to twins, although that is rare and they usually give birth to only one calf. Experts say an elephant can spawn a calf up to 12 times in her life.
"Twin births like this are very rare - in fact, we haven’t seen twins in the Samburu National Reserve in decades," said Save the Elephants.
Compared to humans
Researchers will monitor the health and progress of the calves as part of their daily activities.
"Congratulations to the eagle eye guides at Elephant Watch Camp who first spotted the twins and alerted our researchers. We will be sure to keep you updated on the progress of these special little pachyderms," it said.
The chance of an elephant giving birth to twins is around one percent, according to the Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad (Spana).
In an interview with Newsweek, Save the Elephants founder Iain Douglas-Hamilton said: "Elephant twins are very rare. In fact, they rarely live as twins as usually one or more die. It's a big stress on the mother to have two calves to feed.
"I have seen twins several times over my career and it is always a big event for us ... when we have had twins a couple of times before it wasn't a happy outcome. However, they can survive. It always causes quite a stir when they are born."
The Samburu twins, he said, were looking well, if a bit small. Because of the large amount of rainfall that had fallen in the region recently, he was optimistic.
"The survival of the twins depends very much on the quality of the grass and vegetation and the experience of the matriarch," he said.
"This mother has had successful experience of raising a calf before and the fact that it has rained recently the grass is green in Samburu and gives the little twins a greater chance of survival ... We have to cross our fingers, but we are cautiously hopeful."
Spana reports that unlike other animals, elephants usually only have one baby at a time and though they can have twins, this only happens in one percent of elephant births.
“This is only slightly smaller compared to humans, where 1.6 percent of births are twins," the group said.
The pregnancies of African elephants last up to 22 months, while Asian jumbos are pregnant for 18-22 months, making it the longest gestation period among mammals.
Spana says elephants give birth once every four years. Although they can live for 60-70 years, they typically only have about four or five babies during their lives.