Elephant Wisdom: Mother’s Dung Drop on Calf Boosts Immunity

In Zimbabwe’s Mana Pools National Park, an extraordinary event was captured by wildlife photographer Jens Cullman. In what seems to be a deliberate act, a mother elephant released feces onto her calf’s head.

According to local witnesses, this unconventional act is a bonding experience and an immune system booster for the young elephant.

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An elephant was pictured pooping on her baby’s head. Source: Jens Cullmann/Kennedy News

Cullman, a 50-year-old German, shared the captivating incident: “From what I understand, the calf’s contact with the dung strengthens its immune system. There might also be an element of bonding between mother and child.”


He described the memorable sequence where the calf looked at him before standing up, following its mother, who then discharged her dung onto the calf.

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The pictures were taken at Zimbabwe’s Mana Pools National Park. Source: Jens Cullmann/Kennedy News

Cullman found the photographs fascinating and elicited amazement from friends and family who found the situation amusing, responding with enthusiastic “wow”s.

However, the narrative takes a sad turn. The national park had experienced a severe dry season that severely affected the wildlife.


The mother elephant, being visibly malnourished, symbolizes the distressing scenario. This unfavorable condition led to the loss of many elephants, with other species also enduring hardship.

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But locals say it is a bonding ritual that helps boost the little uns’ immune system. Source: Jens Cullmann/Kennedy News
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Photographer Jens explained: ‘When the baby get dung on it, it helps boost the baby’s immune system, and maybe it’s some kind of bonding with the mother as well ‘ Source: Jens Cullmann/Kennedy News

Cullman further explained that the mother and her calf had to search for food all day tirelessly. He said, “In Mana Pools this year, it was extremely dry, leading to widespread animal suffering. Numerous elephants, including calves, perished due to the drought.”

Cullman still needs to capture the resilience of these majestic creatures. Upon spotting the adorable calf, he exited his car, approached them, and snapped photos.


The elephants were foraging for food, a daunting task considering it was the end of the harsh dry season. Cullman tracked the pair because of his fondness for them and captured heartwarming shots of the calf beside its mother’s large foot.

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In a heartbreaking revelation, Jens said the mother elephant was ‘very skinny’ because of a bad dry season in the park. Source: Jens Cullmann/Kennedy News
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The mother and baby would have had to spend the whole day searching for any food they could find. Source: Jens Cullmann/Kennedy News

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