A wildlife camera in South Estonia recently picked up a very rare sight, a female moose, or in Europe, elk, accompanying three youngsters. Normally, elk will give birth to just one or two calves at a time, agricultural weekly Maaleht reports.
Hannes Varik, who owns and operates the trackside camera which captured the scene, said something like this is "relatively rare. This year, we only know of one female elk who was also with three calves, and this was in Rapla County, far from Võru County."
Usually, a female elk will have one or two calves, making a female with three calves in tow a very rare thing – while as noted this has now been seen twice in different parts of the country.
One Finnish study conducted 20 years ago found the distribution of calf numbers to be 60 percent for a single pregnancy, 39 percent with two calves and the remainder with any other figure – only 0.21 percent of pregnancies resulted in, in effect, triplets.
At the same time, each individual calf has a smaller likelihood of survival through to the fall (calves are normally born in June) into winter and beyond – with the percentage in the case of a three-calf brood just 15 percent per animal.
Editor: Andrew Whyte