Astro with her calf in the foreground of the photo
Astro was born in 1993 and lives in Pongola, South Africa. Her mother Antares is the matriarch of the elephant herd, who as the decision-maker carries a trove of crucial information and leads the herd through save places to find food.
Born to a matriarch, Astro shows fantastic nurturing skills of all her babies. In fact, Astro today has four babies of her own; born in 2003, 2006, 2008 and 2012. Mirroring her mother’s character traits, the usually calm and friendly Astro rightly changes character in times of danger.
Heike Zitzer, elephant researcher of Space for Elephants Foundations, remembers a time during a terrible drought in 2015, where Astro was seen charging at her even from a safe distance and pushed her all the way back to a camp nearby. This only meant one thing: “serious business” and protection of her young ones. With little water and little food, it is only natural to understand Astro’s natural defence mechanisms and acting uncharacteristically. A positive sign of a great Mom – and someday possibly leader of her own herd…
Text and photos by Heike Zitzer, Space for Elephants Foundation