Alioth was born into the so-called AA family in March 1995. They were observed and documented by a pioneering scientist Cynthia Moss from Amboseli Trust for Elephant, who was naming each family after a letter of alphabet (after running out of letters, she introduced AA, AB etc.). Like all male elephants, after pubescent years spent in the female-dominated world of mothers and maternal helpers, Alioth broke out and began spending time with other male elephants. While males may not form the same kinds of close-knit friendships as female-led groups, research has proven that male aggregations are far from random. The older males mentor the youngsters and guide them through the adult world.
Although males leave their birth family at an average age of 14, they don’t leave family life altogether. Instead, they might move off and join another family, or move from family to family – and up to age of 25 they mostly spend time with other family groups.
There was a mistaken belief that young males get kicked out of their families. But this came from observations of males that had left their own family and joined another, where they are not as welcome as they would be with their own family.
Text by Cynthia Moss, Joyce Poole & BBC