Passport
Full Episode
Echo: An Elephant to Remember

Echo, Africa’s most famous elephant, was the subject of many films and the matriarch of perhaps the most studied wild elephant herd in the world. In May of 2009, she died of natural causes. This film is a look back at this remarkable animal through extraordinary footage and interviews with the researchers that cared for and studied Echo and her family.

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Narrator: IN THE SHADOW OF MOUNT KILIMANJARO LIES AMBOSELI NATIONAL PARK.

IT WAS THE LIFELONG HOME OF 'ECHO,' AFRICA'S MOST FAMOUS ELEPHANT.

AND HER SON ELY, WHO OVERCAME THE TRAUMA OF HIS BIRTH TO JOIN ECHO'S EVER-GROWING FAMILY.

THESE ARE PERHAPS THE BEST KNOWN WILD ELEPHANTS IN HISTORY, WATCHED OVER FOR MORE THAN 30 YEARS BY SCIENTIST CYNTHIA MOSS AND HER COLLEAGUES FROM THE AMBOSELI TRUST FOR ELEPHANTS.

THIS IS THE STORY OF THEIR REMARKABLE MATRIARCH, WHO IN LIFE AND DEATH REMAINS THE KEY TO HER FAMILY'S SURVIVAL.

I TOUCH HER.

I TOUCH HER, THE TEMPERATURE WAS GOING DOWN, AND THEN SHE WAS SNORING.

AND THEN I CAN TELL THOSE ARE SIGNS OF... SHE'S DYING.

[ SOBBING ] I TOUCH HER, SHE WAS GOING SLOWLY BY SLOWLY.

AS I WAS TOUCHING HER, SHE WAS LOOKING AT ME AND BLINKING HER EYES LIKE THIS, JUST BLINKING.

AND THEN SHE -- SHE JUST LOOKED AT ME, THE LAST MINUTE SHE BLINKED HER EYES LIKE THIS AND LOOK AT ME... AND THEN SHE DIED.

IT'S GOOD ONE OF US WAS THERE.

YEAH.

Narrator: WHAT IS THE LEGACY THAT ECHO IS PASSING ON TO HER OWN FAMILY AND TO THE PEOPLE WHO LOVED HER?

Woman: I MET ECHO IN 1973.

THAT'S 36 YEARS.

WHO ELSE DO YOU KNOW FOR 36 YEARS?

NO PET YOU EVER HAD YOU KNEW FOR THAT LONG.

THAT'S A LONG TIME!

Woman: ECHO IS A VERY, VERY SPECIAL ELEPHANT.

SHE IS A LEADER, YOU KNOW, THEY TRUSTED HER SO WELL.

Woman: I MISS HER A LOT, A LOT.

[ SIGHS ] I MISS HER A LOT...A LOT.

Narrator: AT HER DEATH FROM OLD AGE AT 65, WILL ECHO'S IMMENSE EXPERIENCE, GAINED BY HER FOREBEARS OVER CENTURIES, BE LOST TO HER FAMILY?

THE FINAL TEST OF A MATRIARCH IS HOW WELL SHE PASSES ON THAT KNOWLEDGE.

HER FAMILY HAS LOST A STRONG LEADER AND A WISE MOTHER.

WHAT LASTING GIFTS HAS SHE GIVEN HER CHILDREN?

WILL THEY REMEMBER HER LESSONS?

THE GLANDS AT THEIR TEMPLES STREAM WITH EMOTION.

ECHO GUIDED THIS FAMILY FOR ALMOST HALF A CENTURY.

NOW THE 39-STRONG BAND OF RELATIVES AND DESCENDANTS FACE THEIR GREATEST CHALLENGE... WITHOUT HER.

ECHO'S LIFE HAD ALREADY UNROLLED TO THE AGE OF 28 BY THE TIME CYNTHIA FIRST MET HER.

HER EARLY DAYS ARE SHROUDED IN MYSTERY, AND NO FILM EXISTS.

SHE WAS PROBABLY BORN AROUND THE END OF THE SECOND WORLD WAR, AND KNOWING NOW WHAT SHE HAS TAUGHT US ABOUT FAMILY LIFE, SHE MUST HAVE HAD A WISE AND CARING MOTHER.

EVERY DAY BABY ECHO WOULD FOLLOW HER MOTHER BACK AND FORTH ALONG WELL-TRODDEN TRAILS -- PATHS REMEMBERED BY HER FAMILY FOR GENERATION AFTER GENERATION, LEARNING WHERE TO GO WHEN FOOD WAS SHORT AND TIMES WERE DANGEROUS.

IN HER EARLY DAYS THESE JOURNEYS WERE GREAT FUN.

ONLY WHEN SHE WAS OLDER DID SHE DISCOVER HOW IMPORTANT THEY WERE.

ECHO WAS TO LEARN THESE PATHS BY HEART.

WHEN SHE EVENTUALLY BECAME A MATRIARCH AND BEGAN TEACHING HER OWN YOUNG CALVES, ECHO SAW CYNTHIA WATCHING HER FOR THE FIRST TIME.

CYNTHIA ALSO WANTED TO LEARN FROM ECHO, AND SO FOUND A DEVICE THAT WOULD EVENTUALLY BOND THE TWO OF THEM TOGETHER FOR A VERY LONG TIME.

[ BEEP ] Cynthia: WE DECIDED WE NEEDED TO FIND OUT WHERE THE ELEPHANTS WERE GOING, SO WE FOUND A SMALL FAMILY, DARTED THE MATRIARCH, AND PUT THE COLLAR ON.

AND THEN, BECAUSE SHE WAS MAKING THIS 'BEEP, BEEP' NOISE, WE CALLED HER 'ECHO.'

[ COLLAR TRANSMISSION BEEPING ] AND THESE WERE THE TRADITIONAL OLD COLLARS, WHERE YOU HAD TO GO AROUND WITH THIS AERIAL AND A LITTLE -- LITTLE BOX THAT TICKED.

IT WAS VERY FIDDLY.

I ALWAYS FOUND RADIO TRACKING IN THAT WAY A LOT OF WORK FOR A LITTLE TINY BIT OF INFORMATION.

ECHO TURNED OUT TO BE A HOMEBODY AND BARELY MOVED THE WHOLE TIME HER COLLAR WORKED, SO SHE DIDN'T GIVE US AN AWFUL LOT OF INFORMATION, BUT WE DID GET TO KNOW HER THEN, WE STARTED TO GET TO KNOW HER AND HER FAMILY.

Narrator: ECHO DISCOVERED AN AREA THAT CONTAINED ALL THE FOOD, WATER AND THE SAFETY SHE NEEDED TO KEEP HER FAMILY OUT OF HARM'S WAY.

SHE WOULD ONLY VENTURE FARTHER WHEN SHE ABSOLUTELY HAD TO.

IT WAS THIS SENSIBLE AND STUBBORN ATTITUDE THAT HELPED DOUBLE THE SIZE OF HER FAMILY TO 14, IN ONLY 17 YEARS.

CYNTHIA KEPT DETAILED RECORDS OF ALL THE ELEPHANTS VISITING HER BASE AT AMBOSELI NATIONAL PARK.

SHE GAVE THEM NAMES.

ALL ECHO'S SONS AND DAUGHTERS, NIECES AND NEPHEWS, ALL THE MEMBERS OF ECHO'S FAMILY, THE E-B's, THEY ALL BEGIN WITH THE SAME LETTER -- 'E.'

SHE PUBLISHED TWO BOOKS CONTAINING RESEARCH NEVER BEFORE RECORDED IN THE WILD.

AND ALONG WITH THE SCIENCE THERE WAS A GOOD STORY.

Cynthia: IT WAS AFTER WE WERE ALREADY STARTING, AND I SAID, 'LET ME GO LOOK AT THE ESTRUS RECORDS, THE MATING RECORDS, AND SEE IF ANYONE'S PREGNANT IN THE FAMILY.'

SO I WENT AND LOOKED IT UP, AND LO AND BEHOLD, ECHO HERSELF WAS GOING TO HAVE A CALF.

Narrator: AN IMPORTANT DAY DAWNED IN ECHO'S LIFE.

TWENTY-TWO MONTHS EARLIER, CYNTHIA HAD SEEN HER MATING.

THE CALF WAS DUE ANY TIME NOW.

[ MAN SNEEZES ] Man: OH, EXCUSE ME, IT WAS THAT DUST!

Narrator: CAMERAMAN MARTYN COLBECK HAS BEEN FILMING ECHO AND CYNTHIA FROM THE EARLY DAYS.

THIS LOOKS LIKE IT.

Narrator: NOW THEY TRAVEL TOGETHER ON A TRIP BACK IN TIME.

THERE WAS A GROUP OF VULTURES ON THE GROUND IN THE FAR DISTANCE.

THE BIRDS WERE SQUABBLING OVER THE REMAINS OF WHAT COULD BE AN ELEPHANT'S PLACENTA.

WELL, 19 YEARS AGO... WE CAME OUT HERE AND WE WERE SO EXCITED!

Narrator: ONLY 30 YARDS AWAY STOOD ECHO AND SOME OF HER FAMILY... AND UNDER ECHO, THE NEW BABY.

THAT CHANGED EVERYTHING, REALLY, DIDN'T IT?

REALLY DID, BECAUSE THERE WAS THIS... HURRAY!

WONDERFUL, GREAT BIG BABY.

Narrator: ECHO LOOKED TIRED BUT IN GOOD HEALTH.

HER CALF WAS MALE, AND PERHAPS ONLY TWO HOURS OLD.

AND THEN... YOU'D SUDDENLY GONE VERY QUIET.

AND THEN YOU SAID, 'THERE'S SOMETHING WRONG WITH THIS BABY.'

Narrator: ALTHOUGH ECHO HAD GIVEN BIRTH TO AT LEAST FOUR OTHER HEALTHY CALVES, SOMETHING LOOKED WRONG WITH THIS ONE.

HE SEEMED UNABLE TO STRAIGHTEN HIS LEGS.

THIS WAS VERY UNUSUAL.

CYNTHIA HAD SEEN DOZENS OF CALVES AND THEY COULD ALL STAND WITHIN HALF AN HOUR OF BEING BORN.

Cynthia: SHE KEPT PUTTING HER TRUNK UNDER HIS STOMACH AND TRYING TO LIFT HIM, AND HIS CARPAL JOINTS WERE COMPLETELY SEIZED.

Narrator: ECHO DIDN'T LEAVE HER SON FOR A MINUTE.

AGAIN AND AGAIN, SHE TRIED TO HELP HIM TO HIS FEET.

Martyn: ELY WAS SORT OF CRUMPLED UNDERNEATH ECHO AND HE COULDN'T MOVE AT ALL.

Cynthia: NO, NO.

Martyn: AND ENID, WHO WAS EIGHT THEN -- ECHO'S DAUGHTER ENID, JUST STUCK BY ECHO AND ELY.

Cynthia: YEAH, YES.

Martyn: AND THE OTHERS HAD BEEN AROUND AT THE BEGINNING, HADN'T THEY, AND THEN THEY SORT OF WANDERED OFF AND ENID WAS VERY TORN BETWEEN... Cynthia: YES, SHE KEPT LISTENING AND CALLING TO THE OTHERS, AND THEN SHE WALKED AWAY, AND AT ONE POINT SHE WALKED ABOUT 15 METERS AWAY OR SOMETHING.

Narrator: ENID WAS THIRSTY AND HUNGRY.

IT WAS VERY HOT.

THE REST OF THE FAMILY HAD GONE TO BATHE.

ECHO HAD FOUND A SMALL WATERHOLE AND WAS COOLING HERSELF WITH MUD.

THE STRANDED CALF WAS CLEARLY SUFFERING IN THE HEAT.

Cynthia: AND THEN AT THAT POINT, ECHO TRIED AGAIN TO LIFT ELY AND HE SCREAMED, HE LET OUT A REALLY AWFUL BABY -- DEEP BABY SCREAM.

[ ELY SCREAMS ] ENID JUST SPUN AROUND AND CAME TEARING BACK.

[ ELY CRYING ] Narrator: ENID NEVER LEFT HIM AGAIN.

THE FOLLOWING MORNING AT DAWN, ECHO, HER DAUGHTER ENID, AND ECHO'S NEW CALF HAD NOT TRAVELED FAR.

THE CALF LOOKED SURPRISINGLY STRONG AND HAD LEARNED TO SHUFFLE ALONG ON HIS CRIPPLED LEGS.

ECHO AND ENID WERE WALKING VERY SLOWLY ALONGSIDE HIM, ADJUSTING THEIR PACE TO ENSURE THAT HE WASN'T LEFT BEHIND.

HE WOULDN'T BE ABLE TO HOBBLE AROUND LIKE THIS FOR VERY LONG WITHOUT HIS LEGS RUBBING RAW AND BECOMING INFECTED.

THEY WERE TEMPTED TO HELP, BUT THE SCIENTIST'S ROLE IS TO OBSERVE.

HIS SURVIVAL DEPENDED ON ECHO.

AS MARTYN WILL TELL YOU, MANY TIMES I TOLD HIM TO STOP FILMING.

I SAID 'YOU CAN'T FILM THIS, THIS IS TOO HORRIBLE.

THE AUDIENCE WON'T WANT TO SEE THIS.'

AND LUCKILY HE DIDN'T STOP FILMING.

Narrator: ONE DAY LATER, THE FAMILY HAD HARDLY MOVED.

THEY APPEARED TO BE RESTING.

THE CALF WAS SHELTERING BENEATH ECHO.

HE WAS STILL CRIPPLED, BUT HE WAS ALSO STILL TRYING TO RISE.

THIS WAS A SPECIAL BABY.

IT WAS ONLY WHEN ECHO'S NEW CALF WAS STANDING PROPERLY THEY COULD SEE WHAT A BIG CALF HE WAS.

HE COULDN'T MOVE AT ALL IN THE WOMB, AND SO -- AND SO -- AND THAT HAPPENS IN HORSES, WHERE THE FEMALE IS DISPROPORTIONATELY SMALLER THAN THE STALLION.

Martyn: BUT IT TAUGHT US A LOT ABOUT ECHO, DIDN'T IT?

IT TAUGHT US A LOT ABOUT ENID.

IT WAS JUST REMARKABLE, HER PATIENCE.

SHE NEVER LOOKED FLUSTERED.

ENID WAS RIGHT THERE ALL THE TIME, AND, NO, IT WAS EXTRAORDINARY BEHAVIOR.

Narrator: CYNTHIA AND MARTYN EXPECTED THE THREE-DAY-LONG STRUGGLE TO HAVE EXHAUSTED THE YOUNG CALF BUT ELY AMAZED THEM WITH HIS DETERMINATION.

HE JUST WOULDN'T GIVE UP.

AND HIS REWARD WAS HIS FIRST MEAL.

Cynthia: NOW WE DON'T KNOW WHERE HE IS.

HE'S GONE OFF -- HE'S GONE OFF TO BE INDEPENDENT.

Martyn: HE WENT OFF IN 2000 -- WAS THE LAST TIME WE SAW HIM, WASN'T IT?

SO HE COULD HAVE GONE OFF TO ANOTHER BULL AREA AND NOT COME BACK, OR HE COULD POTENTIALLY COME BACK AS A MUCH OLDER MALE.

OH, YEAH, HE COULD.

Narrator: ECHO'S LOYALTY AND PERSEVERANCE HAD HELPED SAVE HER SON.

IT WAS AN INTIMATE GLIMPSE INTO THE CARING WORLD OF ECHO'S FAMILY.

AND OVER THE COMING YEARS SHE WOULD GIVE US MANY MORE.

AS ECHO FOLLOWED THE PATHS TO FOOD AND WATER SHE HAD LEARNED FROM HER MOTHER, SHE AND ENID SHOWED US HOW HELPLESS YOUNGSTERS ARE PROTECTED AND EDUCATED BY MOTHERS... AND BABYSITTING SISTERS.

AMBOSELI IS A SPECIAL PLACE.

RAIN ON KILIMANJARO USUALLY WATERS IT ALL YEAR LONG.

UNDERGROUND RIVERS REACH OUT INTO THE PLAIN, WHERE FRESHWATER SPRINGS FORM WELCOMING SWAMPS, DRAWING ANIMALS IN TO BATHE AND DRINK EACH DAY.

BUT WHEN LITTLE RAIN FALLS ON THE PLAIN ITSELF, LITTLE GRASS GROWS, AND WITHOUT GRAZING, THE ELEPHANTS GO HUNGRY.

SIX WEEKS AFTER ECHO'S DEATH, THE LACK OF RAIN FOR FIVE MONTHS IS TAKING ITS TOLL.

IN TWO PREVIOUS DROUGHTS, ECHO HAD SHOWN HER DAUGHTERS AND THEIR OFFSPRING WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK IN DIFFICULT TIMES.

ECHO'S 39-STRONG FAMILY NOW SPLITS INTO TWO.

ECHO'S SISTER ELLA AND EIGHT OTHERS HAVE GONE OFF ALONE.

CYNTHIA AND THE WOMEN OF THE AMBOSELI TRUST TRY TO KEEP TRACK OF THE ONES THAT STAY BEHIND.

ECHO'S REMAINING FAMILY MEMBERS ARE FOLLOWING THE ROUTE SHE TAUGHT THEM, BUT THE DROUGHT IS LASTING LONGER THAN ANYONE CAN REMEMBER.

MANY OF THE GRAZING ANIMALS WEAKEN AND DIE.

ONLY THE TOUGHEST WILL SURVIVE THIS DROUGHT.

THERE IS GROWING CONCERN FOR ECHO'S DAUGHTER ENID.

SHE WAS ESPECIALLY CLOSE TO HER MOTHER FOR ALL HER 27 YEARS.

NOW SHE'S ABANDONED HER SISTERS TO HAUNT THE PLACE WHERE ECHO LIES.

Cynthia: POOR ENID, SHE'S COMPLETELY BY HERSELF WITH JUST HER TWO CALVES.

AND EVERY DAY SHE GOES BACK INTO THE AREA OF THE FENCE WHERE ECHO'S CARCASS IS.

AND THESE DAYS SHE'S THE ONLY ONE WHO GOES BACK IN THERE.

AND I SUSPECT SHE JUST IS STILL SO LOYAL TO ECHO AND ECHO'S ROUTINE, THAT SHE'S -- SHE'S NOT CHANGED.

ALL -- THE WHOLE FAMILY IS BROKEN UP INTO SMALL SUBGROUPS, BUT ENID'S REALLY COMPLETELY ON HER OWN, AND I JUST FEEL SO SORRY FOR HER.

SHE'S OBVIOUSLY STILL... VERY, VERY TRAUMATIZED BY LOSING ECHO.

I THINK... IT'S GOING TO TAKE A LONG TIME FOR HER TO RECOVER, IF EVER.

Narrator: ENID'S RELUCTANCE TO MOVE IS ENDANGERING HER CALF.

THE THING IS THAT A CALF THIS AGE SHOULD BE EATING QUITE A BIT OF GRASS AND FOOD, AND THERE REALLY JUST IS NOTHING FOR HER TO EAT.

Narrator: NOT ALL ANIMALS ARE SHORT OF FOOD IN THE DROUGHT.

THOSE THAT PREY ON OTHERS CAN FIND PLENTY OF MEAT.

Cynthia: SORRY, FELLA.

IT'S A YOUNG BUFFALO WHO SEEMS TO BE ON HIS LAST LEGS.

IT'S NOT JUST THE ELEPHANTS, IT'S EVERYTHING.

WELL, EVERYTHING THAT EATS GRASS IS SUFFERING TERRIBLY.

[ SIGHS ] WHAT'S SO FRUSTRATING IS THERE'S NOTHING WE CAN DO.

Narrator: GOOD GRASS IS ALSO VITAL TO THE MAASAI AROUND AMBOSELI.

[ COW BELLS RINGING ] THEIR LIVES REVOLVE AROUND THEIR CATTLE AND GOATS.

IF THE DROUGHT CONTINUES, THEY WILL BRING THEIR HERDS INTO THE PARK FOR WATER, AND CLASH WITH THE ELEPHANTS.

TROUBLE LIES AHEAD.

FOR CYNTHIA AND MARTYN, THE QUESTION IS, HAS THE DROUGHT FURTHER FRAGMENTED ECHO'S FAMILY, OR HAS A NEW LEADER EMERGED?

Cynthia: LOOK AT EUDORA ACTING REALLY MATRIARCHAL.

SHE'S LEADING HER FAMILY.

NOW ELAINE IS ONE OF THE BEST AND MOST ARDENT BABYSITTERS OF ALL THE FEMALES OF THE E.B. -- SHE LOVES BABIES, AND SHE LEFT HER OWN MOTHER JUST TO COME AND SPEND TIME WITH THIS BABY.

SEE, SHE'S PROTECTING HER.

HI, THERE! HOW ARE YOU?

HOW ARE YOU?

OH, SILLY, SILLY... Martyn: BIT OF A PLAY-TRUMPET THAT ONE.

YEAH, A LITTLE BIT.

SHE'S GETTING EXCITED, LOOK!

Cynthia: THEORETICALLY EUDORA SHOULD LEAD THE OTHERS, BECAUSE SHE'S OLDER THAN ENID, SAY, WHO'S ONLY 27 -- SHE'S 10 YEARS OLDER.

BUT THEN SHE'S NOT AS CLOSELY RELATED TO ECHO'S IMMEDIATE DAUGHTERS AS... SO IT MAY ALL SPLIT INTO THREE, WITH ENID AND ELIOT GOING IN ONE, MAKING ONE FAMILY.

IT'S LIKE SHE'S LISTENING TO YOU.

I KNOW, I KNOW SHE IS.

HELLO, EUDORA, HELLO.

IT'S OKAY -- I KNOW THERE'S FUNNY PEOPLE IN THE CAR.

BUT IT'S OKAY.

I WAS REALLY WORRIED SHE WAS GOING TO DIE, BECAUSE SHE WENT OFF BY HERSELF.

EUDORA?

OH, YEAH.

BUT I THINK SHE'S BETTER NOW.

BUT SHE'S STILL PAINFULLY THIN.

I'M SORRY EUDORA -- I KNOW IT'S BEEN A TERRIBLE TIME, HASN'T IT?

AND THERE'S YOUR BABY, THERE'S YOUR BABY, YOUR BIG BABY.

HI, ESSIEN.

GOING TO COME SEE US?

DO YOU REMEMBER US?

YOU REMEMBER THIS CAR.

BUT SMELLY PEOPLE ARE IN HERE TODAY, AREN'T THEY?

[ CHUCKLING ] Narrator: OVER THE YEARS MARTYN AND HIS CAMERA CAR BECAME A FAMILIAR SIGHT TO ECHO'S FAMILY.

FILMING AND TALKING TO THEM FOR THOUSANDS OF HOURS HELPED DEVELOP A CLOSE RELATIONSHIP.

Martyn: THIS ELEPHANT COMING UP BEHIND ME NOW IS ELIOT, ANOTHER ONE OF ECHO'S DAUGHTERS.

SHE WAS, SHE'S A LOVELY FEMALE AND WHEN SHE WAS YOUNGER, WHEN SHE WAS AN ADOLESCENT, SHE ALWAYS USED TO COME RIGHT UP TO THE CAR LIKE THIS, AND WE HAD DENTS ON THE LAND ROVER WITH HER TUSKS.

LOOK SHE'S ALMOST TOUCHING -- OOH, SHE'S TOUCHING THE CAMERA NOW.

ELIOT, ELIOT, ELIOT... IT'S NOT VERY CLEVER, IT'S A VERY EXPENSIVE CAMERA.

IT'S ALL RIGHT.

AND SHE, EVER SINCE SHE WAS QUITE YOUNG, AS AN ADOLESCENT, SHE WAS ALWAYS LEADING THE FAMILY, EVEN THOUGH ECHO WAS STILL ALIVE.

SHE'S A BIT OF LEADER.

SO IT WILL BE INTERESTING TO SEE NOW WHAT HAPPENS WITH ECHO GONE.

AND THIS ELEPHANT THAT'S JUST PASSING ME HERE IS EBONY.

I'M PARTICULARLY FOND OF EBONY, BECAUSE I FILMED HER BEING BORN 14 YEARS AGO.

HI, EBONY.

Narrator: THE TIME WAS FAST APPROACHING FOR ECHO TO GIVE BIRTH AGAIN.

IT WAS 21 1/2 MONTHS SINCE SHE HAD MATED, AND SHE LOOKED ABSOLUTELY HUGE.

AS USUAL, MOST OF THE ELEPHANTS WERE MOVING AWAY FROM THE SWAMP FOR THE NIGHT.

JUST AFTER SUNSET, ECHO WENT INTO LABOR.

SHE WAS CLEARLY HAVING STRONG CONTRACTIONS.

SHE HAD GIVEN BIRTH TO AT LEAST FIVE OTHER CALVES, BUT AFTER THE NEAR-TRAGIC BIRTH OF ELY WITH HIS CRIPPLED LEGS, CYNTHIA AND MARTYN DIDN'T KNOW WHAT TO EXPECT.

THEY WERE READY FOR ANOTHER ALL-NIGHT VIGIL.

HAVING SEEN ONLY THREE OTHER BIRTHS, CYNTHIA WAS DETERMINED TO BE PRESENT AT THIS ONE.

Martyn: SO CAN YOU REMEMBER WHERE IT WAS?

Cynthia: IT WAS JUST OUT FROM THAT LITTLE ROW OF PALMS.

AND IT WAS AN OPEN -- I THINK IT WAS THAT PAN OVER THERE.

Martyn: YEP, I THINK THIS IS ROUGHLY WHERE IT WAS.

Cynthia: YEAH, I THINK SO.

Narrator: THE REST OF ECHO'S FAMILY BECAME EXCITED AS WELL, AND QUICKLY CONVERGED ON HER.

A CURTAIN OF LEGS SUDDENLY SWUNG BACK TO REVEAL THE NEW BABY.

THE THREE-TON MOTHER CARESSED HER BABY TENDERLY WITH HER FOOT.

THE NEW CALF WAS UNUSUALLY STRONG, BUT THE BIRTH FLUIDS MADE THE GROUND SLIPPERY.

IT WAS VERY DIFFICULT FOR HER TO GET TO HER FEET.

Martyn: SHE KEPT ON TRYING TO STAND UP, AND THEN SHE JUST UP-ENDED, DIDN'T SHE? IT WAS VERY FUNNY.

Cynthia: THEY WERE STREAMING WITH TEMPORAL GLANDS AND THEY WERE LIFTING THEIR HEADS AND GOING 'WHOO!'

REMEMBER THAT? LIKE ELLA, ELLA.

ELLA WAS AMAZING -- AND EUDORA.

I REMEMBER EUDORA AS WELL.

Narrator: ECHO GENTLY PUSHED HER DAUGHTER ENID AWAY TO GIVE HER NEW CALF THE SPACE IT NEEDED.

THE YOUNG FEMALE SUCKED HER TRUNK LIKE A BABY SUCKING ITS THUMB.

[ ANIMALS CALLING ] EBONY, ECHO'S NEW CALF, TURNED OUT TO BE A REAL CHARACTER.

SHE WAS A JOY TO FILM AND EXTREMELY PLAYFUL WITH MARTYN.

HIS CAMERA CAR WAS ONE OF THE FIRST THINGS SHE SAW, AND SHE BEHAVED AS IF IT WERE ONE OF THE FAMILY.

Martyn: SO EVERY DAY WE WENT OUT, SHE WOULD THEN COME RUNNING UP AND GREET US.

Cynthia: RUN, RUN TO THE CAR!

AND SHE HIT HER HEAD ONE DAY ON MY CAMERA MOUNT.

Cynthia: NO, QUITE FREQUENTLY!

SHE WOULD COME AND BUTT THE SIDE OF THE CAR.

Martyn: AND YOU CAN STILL SEE, AT AGE 14, A LITTLE BUMP ON HER FOREHEAD.

I FEEL GUILTY EVERY TIME I SEE THAT.

Narrator: EBONY WAS ALWAYS GETTING INTO SCRAPES.

ONCE, TO EVERYONE'S AMAZEMENT AND DISBELIEF, SHE WAS ACTUALLY KIDNAPPED.

ECHO WAS DRIVEN OFF BY ANOTHER FAMILY'S MATRIARCH, LEAVING EBONY CAPTIVE BEHIND THE STRANGERS' LEGS.

KIDNAPPING IS A RARE OCCURRENCE AND HAD NEVER BEEN FILMED BEFORE.

Cynthia: KIDNAPPING ISN'T ABOUT WANTING TO HAVE THE BABY.

IT'S ABOUT SAYING, 'WE CAN TAKE YOUR BABY AND YOU'D BETTER JUST UNDERSTAND THAT WE'RE THE DOMINANT FAMILY.'

Narrator: WHAT HAPPENED NEXT WAS EXTRAORDINARY.

ECHO GATHERED HER FAMILY'S BIG FEMALES.

TOGETHER THEY PLOWED INTO THE KIDNAPPERS.

ECHO'S AIM WAS TO RECOVER HER DAUGHTER.

HER PLAN SHOWED FORETHOUGHT AND THE ABILITY TO INSPIRE TEAMWORK.

FINALLY, SHE LED EBONY AWAY, NOW FLANKED BY MEMBERS OF HER FAMILY.

ECHO'S DAUGHTER WAS RESCUED, AND SAFE ONCE AGAIN.

FOUR YEARS BEFORE THE DROUGHT, EBONY BECAME A MOTHER HERSELF.

BUT THE LACK OF FOOD HAS KILLED BOTH HER CALVES, ONE ONLY A FEW MONTHS OLD.

Cynthia: YES, SHE WAS 11 WHEN SHE HAD HER FIRST CALF, AND THEN SHE SUCCESSFULLY RAISED HIM, WHICH IS GOOD FOR AN 11-YEAR-OLD.

AND THEN SHE HAD ANOTHER CALF AND THAT ONE DIED IN THE DROUGHT, AND THEN LITTLE ETIENNE DIED, TOO.

Martyn: IN THIS DROUGHT... THAT'S A SHAME.

Cynthia: VERY, VERY SAD.

AND SHE'D BEEN A GOOD MOTHER, IT WASN'T HER FAULT.

Martyn: NO, IT WASN'T. SHE'LL HAVE ANOTHER ONE.

Cynthia: YEAH, SHE'S ONLY 15 NOW, SO SHE'LL -- SHE CAN HAVE MANY MORE CALVES, BUT IT'S A SHAME HER FIRST TWO HAVE GONE.

Narrator: OVER THE LAST THREE YEARS AMBOSELI'S DROUGHTS HAVE BEEN WORSENING.

EBONY'S CALVES WILL NOT BE THE ONLY LOSSES.

YOUNG ELEPHANTS NEED MORE THAN DRIED-UP ROOTS TO SUSTAIN THEM.

BUT THEIR MOTHERS CAN BARELY FEED THEMSELVES.

AND THE MOST COSTLY DEATHS ARE THOSE OF OLDER, EXPERIENCED FEMALES.

TWENTY AMBOSELI MATRIARCHS WILL DIE.

EACH SUCH DEATH PUTS AN ENTIRE FAMILY AT RISK.

AS CYNTHIA SEARCHES FOR ECHO'S FAMILY, A REPORT COMES IN THAT A MATURE FEMALE ELEPHANT IS DOWN.

[ GRUNTING ] CYNTHIA FEARS IT COULD BE ECHO'S MISSING SISTER, ELLA, THE NEXT IN LINE TO TAKE OVER ECHO'S POSITION AS MATRIARCH.

[ GRUNTING ] WOW... BIG TUSKS.

Narrator: WITH RELIEF MIXED WITH SADNESS, SHE RECOGNIZES THE DYING ELEPHANT AS BESS OF THE B-B FAMILY.

NO, SHE'S NOT OLD, BUT SHE'S GOT BIG TUSKS FOR A FEMALE.

RIGHT NOW WE ARE COMING ACROSS THEM EVERY DAY.

SOMETIMES TWO, THREE.

THEY ARE DYING FROM THE DROUGHT, AND ALSO FROM POACHING.

[ BESS EXHALES ] Narrator: THE DRAWN-OUT DEATH OF AN ELEPHANT FROM NATURAL CAUSES IS DISTRESSING.

IT'S WORSE STILL WHEN ELEPHANTS DIE FROM WOUNDS INFLICTED BY HUMANS.

[ CHANTING ] THE MAASAI ELDERS REMEMBER A SEVERE DROUGHT IN 1961, WHEN THEY LOST ALMOST ALL THEIR CATTLE.

THIS FAMINE IS FAR MORE DESTRUCTIVE.

WATER IS BECOMING SCARCE OUTSIDE AMBOSELI.

CONFLICTS AT WATERHOLES ARE WORSENING.

CLASHES BETWEEN YOUNG MALE ELEPHANTS AND CATTLE-HERDERS AT WATERHOLES ARE LEADING TO SPEARINGS.

LITTLE ELY, HIS CRIPPLED LEGS FULLY RECOVERED, NEARLY DIED IN ONE SUCH INCIDENT WHEN HE WAS ONLY SEVEN.

A MAASAI SPEAR LODGED IN HIS BACK.

WITH THE HELP OF THE AMBOSELI VETS, ELY RECOVERED.

[ TRUMPETS ] HE TESTED HIS GROWING STRENGTH IN THE FAMILY AND ENJOYED THEIR WARMTH AND AFFECTION UNTIL HE WAS 10.

THEN, LIKE THE OTHER YOUNG MALES FROM ECHO'S FAMILY BEFORE HIM, HE LEFT TO JOIN OTHER BULLS.

HE RETURNED FROM TIME TO TIME FOR A FEW MONTHS, THEN HE DISAPPEARED.

A FEW YEARS AFTER THE ATTACK ON ELY, ECHO'S ELDEST DAUGHTER, ERIN, WAS ALSO SPEARED, HIGH IN THE SHOULDER.

EMAIL, HER 18-MONTH-OLD SON, DEPENDED ON HER FOR VITAL MILK.

HERE ECHO SHOWED HER TRUE STRENGTH OF CHARACTER.

HER 34-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER WAS IN SERIOUS TROUBLE -- BLOOD POISONING FLOODED THROUGH HER BODY.

EMAIL'S SUCKLING CAUSED ERIN AGONY.

MARTYN FOLLOWED EVENTS CLOSELY.

AS ERIN'S SUFFERING GREW WORSE IN FRONT OF HIS EYES, HE BECAME MORE AND MORE DEEPLY INVOLVED.

NOW, BECAUSE IT WAS INFLICTED BY PEOPLE, SHE WAS TREATED BY THE KENYA WILDLIFE SERVICE VETS, BUT SHE BECAME MORE AND MORE SICK, AND LESS AND LESS MOBILE.

Narrator: THE INFECTION WAS SPREADING DOWN HER LEG.

SHE FOUND IT INCREASINGLY PAINFUL TO WALK.

ECHO HAD TO BALANCE HER GRANDSON EMAIL'S SURVIVAL AND HER DAUGHTER ERIN'S SUFFERING AGAINST THE NEEDS OF THE REST OF THE FAMILY.

Martyn: ECHO DURING THIS PERIOD WAS REMARKABLE, BECAUSE ERIN WAS UNABLE TO MOVE VERY FAR AT ALL, AND WE KNOW THAT ECHO DIDN'T GO MORE THAN ABOUT A KILOMETER AND A HALF, TWO KILOMETERS, AWAY FROM HER THE WHOLE TIME.

SO SHE BASICALLY DID A CIRCLE AROUND ERIN.

AND ONE OF THE MOST TOUCHING MOMENTS I REMEMBER WAS ECHO CAME BACK AND REJOINED ERIN, AND THEY HAD THIS WONDERFUL GREETING CEREMONY.

THE TWO OF THEM LIFTED THEIR HEADS AND THEY CLANKED THEIR TUSKS TOGETHER.

IT'S A VERY STRONG GREETING BETWEEN VERY CLOSELY RELATED INDIVIDUALS.

AND THAT WAS AN AMAZING MOMENT TO SEE.

BUT SHE WOULDN'T LEAVE ERIN, SHE WOULDN'T LEAVE HER.

IT'S HARD TO KNOW WHAT THESE ELEPHANTS ARE THINKING.

IT'S TRYING TO WORK OUT EXACTLY WHAT IS GOING ON, AND WE CAN ONLY USE OUR HUMAN EXPERIENCES TO TRY AND WORK THAT OUT, BUT THE FACT THAT SHE DIDN'T LEAVE MORE THAN ABOUT TWO KILOMETERS AND CAME BACK REGULARLY TO CHECK HER JUST SHOWS AN EXTRAORDINARY MOTHER-DAUGHTER BOND.

Narrator: WE CAN ONLY IMAGINE WHAT IT MEANT TO ERIN TO HAVE HER MOTHER EXPRESS HER LOVE.

THIS INTENSE LOYALTY AND DEEP CARING MAKES ELEPHANTS SO SPECIAL.

AS FOR EMAIL, NO OTHER MALE ORPHANED UNDER THE AGE OF TWO HAD EVER SURVIVED HERE.

ECHO HAD TO TAKE THE YOUNG CALF AWAY TO FIND FOOD HE COULD MANAGE.

THIS MEANT SHE WOULD NEVER SEE HER DAUGHTER ALIVE AGAIN.

BUT ECHO'S YOUNG GRANDSON MIGHT SURVIVE.

Cynthia: AT LEAST SHE'S, UH... SHE'S NOT IN PAIN ANYMORE.

[ SNIFFLES ] [ Sobbing ] I NEVER...GET USED TO THIS.

I'VE KNOWN ERIN SINCE SHE WAS FOUR YEARS OLD.

SO... I GUESS IT'S LIKE LOSING A FRIEND.

CERTAINLY GOING TO BE... IT'LL BE DEVASTATING FOR THE FAMILY.

THEY ARE ALL GOING TO FEEL THE LOSS TREMENDOUSLY, AND THE CALF IS ONLY 20 MONTHS OLD, SO, UM... I'M NOT SURE HE'S GOING TO MAKE IT OR NOT.

Narrator: ECHO'S ACTIONS DID SAVE HER GRANDSON EMAIL.

TWO WEEKS LATER, ECHO RETURNED TO THE PLACE WHERE SHE HAD LAST SEEN HER DAUGHTER.

ELEPHANTS REACT STRONGLY TO THE CARCASSES OF OTHER ELEPHANTS.

IT CERTAINLY SEEMED THAT ECHO KNEW THESE WERE HER DAUGHTER'S BONES.

BUT WHAT WAS SHE THINKING?

DID SHE GRIEVE?

IT WAS AS IF SHE WERE TRYING TO UNDERSTAND WHAT HAD HAPPENED.

ECHO HAD BEEN FORCED TO ABANDON HER DAUGHTER FOR THE SAKE OF HER GRANDSON AND THE REST OF HER FAMILY.

SOON THE ELEPHANTS MAY NO LONGER GO HUNGRY.

AFTER THREE YEARS, THE DROUGHT IS FINALLY DRAWING TO AN END.

[ THUNDER ROLLS IN DISTANCE ] THE LESSONS ECHO PASSED ON KEPT 34 OF HER FAMILY ALIVE -- NOT ONE OF THE FAMILY'S VALUABLE ADULTS DIED IN AMBOSELI'S WORST RECORDED DROUGHT.

THAT IS A REMARKABLE ACHIEVEMENT, AND ECHO'S GREATEST LEGACY.

ELEPHANTS THAT SCATTERED TO SEARCH FOR FOOD OUTSIDE THE PARK RETURN.

AMONG THEM IS ECHO'S SISTER ELLA.

SHE HAS PUT ECHO'S TEACHINGS INTO PRACTICE -- SHE'S SAVED ALL EIGHT OF HER CHARGES.

ECHO'S OTHER RELATIONS RUN TO GREET HER.

ELLA IS THE NATURAL LEADER OF THE FAMILY, AND CYNTHIA BELIEVES HER RETURN IS A SIGN THE FAMILY WILL FLOURISH AGAIN.

LOOKING STRONG AND HEALTHY IS THE ORPHAN EMAIL, WHO SO NEARLY STARVED TO DEATH WHEN HIS MOTHER DIED, BUT WAS SAVED BY ECHO'S WISE ACTIONS.

AS THE WOMEN OF THE AMBOSELI TRUST OBSERVE THE FAMILY, GREAT BULL ELEPHANTS COME TO COURT THE FEMALES.

THE RAINS BRING ON CELEBRATIONS AND MATING.

THE FEMALES THAT LOST CALVES WILL COME INTO SEASON AGAIN.

THERE WILL SOON BE NEW BROTHERS AND SISTERS FOR THE YOUNGSTERS.

AMONG THE HUNDREDS THAT CONGREGATE IN THE SHADOW OF KILIMANJARO, A DISTANT FIGURE PUZZLES THE WOMEN OF THE TRUST.

AN ADULT MALE WHO, FOR ONCE, THEY CANNOT INSTANTLY IDENTIFY, YET THERE IS SOMETHING FAMILIAR ABOUT HIM.

HIS BACK BEARS THE SCARS OF AN OLD WOUND.

TO THEIR DELIGHT, THE WOMEN RECOGNIZE AN OLD FRIEND.

ALMOST 20 YEARS AGO THEIR HEARTS WENT OUT TO HIM AS A BRAVE LITTLE NEWBORN.

IT IS ECHO'S SON, ELY.

FOR THREE DAYS HE BATTLED HIS CRIPPLED LEGS TO GET TO HIS FEET.

NOW HIS DETERMINATION HAS SEEN HIM THROUGH 8 1/2 YEARS AWAY FROM THE FAMILY.

HE MUST STILL REMEMBER THE TIME HE WAS SPEARED BEFORE LEAVING AMBOSELI, BUT IT HAS NOT STOPPED HIM RETURNING.

SEARCHING AROUND THE HUNDREDS OF ELEPHANTS ABOUT HIM, HE FINDS HIS FAMILY.

NOT EVERYONE HE LEFT IS HERE.

HE IS TOO LATE TO TOUCH TUSKS WITH HIS MOTHER.

FOR HIM AND OTHERS WHO LOVED HER, HER BONES KEEP HER ALIVE.

Cynthia: WELL, I'VE SEEN THE CARCASS MANY, MANY TIMES, BUT IT STILL MAKES ME SAD, ESPECIALLY SEEING THE KEY THINGS THAT MADE HER ECHO -- LIKE THE KNOBBLY BITS ON HER HEAD, AND THE KNOBBLY BITS ON HER BACK.

THIS STILL SAYS ECHO TO ME, IT DOESN'T SAY CARCASS.

WHAT I LOVED ABOUT HER WAS THE WAY SHE WALKED.

SHE HAD THIS WONDERFUL, SWINGING WALK.

AND TO THINK WE ARE NEVER GOING TO SEE THAT AGAIN, THAT'S WHAT HURTS.

HMM... AWW!

'FROM YOUR FRIENDS, BELOVED ECHO.'

THAT WAS VERY SWEET.

SHE WAS A SPECIAL ELEPHANT, THERE'S NO DOUBT ABOUT IT.

SHE WAS JUST A LOVELY BEING.

SHE GAVE US A LOT OF JOY AND SHE FILLED US WITH WONDER.

Narrator: ECHO LIVES ON IN THE WISDOM SHE HAS PASSED ON TO HER SONS AND DAUGHTERS -- AN ENDURING GIFT, WHICH THEY IN TURN WILL PASS ON TO GENERATIONS TO COME.