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Baby Elephant Plays Follow-My-Leader

This sequence of photos was taken in South Africa's Kruger National Park. We were watching a herd of elephants, including two youngsters.

The one was keen to play but the other appeared reluctant and walked off. The other immediately followed right behind and, like a mischievous child, began copying the movements of the one in front.

Cambridge Dictionaries Online defines "follow-my-leader" as:
a children's game in which one child is followed by a line of other children, who have to copy everything the first child does.

This interaction between the two baby elephants looked exactly like such a game. It was surely more than coincidence that the actions of the following elephant appeared so closely to mimic the leader!

Baby elephants at play Two baby elephants, one keen to play, the other apparently less so

Baby elephant follows one in front The reluctant one moves away, followed closely by the other youngster

Baby elephant gets in step with leader Who then moves in right behind and gets into step with the leader

Baby elephant mimics leader And starts to mimic the actions of the leader

Baby elephants moving in co-ordination Feet, ears, and trunks now all co-ordinated

Juvenile elephants acting like kids The leader pauses, as if about to move left ....

baby elephant pair walking in line Then presses on ahead, with the follower quickly back in position, close behind

juvenile elephant pair The leader has had enough and veers off abruptly to join the rest of the herd. End of game!

Camera: Canon EOS 400D with Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS telephoto zoom lens; Aperture: f/5.6; Shutter speed: 1/800 - 1/1000; ISO: 400.

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