Elephants are exceptionally smart and affectionate creatures, often referred to as the gentle giants of the wild. With the largest brains in the mammalian kingdom, elephants have three times as much neurons as humans and have been found to exhibit behaviors uncommon of lower animals . From burying their dead to celebrating their newborns, elephants are some of the most amazing creatures in the world. They are ‘pack’ animals, which means they move in herds that could be as small as just two members, a mother and her child, or as large as forty members, consisting of mothers and their children. The males move independently. These herds aren’t like other animal groups where they merely move together for protection and survival. Elephant herds are true and loving families, where affection and warmth can be found in abundance.
Taking a safari trip is a life-changing experience. You’d get to see a whole new side of life and appreciate nature at its most diverse. Animal lovers can relate to the indescribable feeling. It’s nothing like going to the zoo. It’s far more exciting, amazing, and enriching.
A warm, loud welcome
An incredible safari video surfaced on YouTube a while ago, showing tourists who witnessed the birthing of a baby elephant. At Chobe National Park in South Africa, the tourists were lucky to have filmed the exact moment a newborn calf dropped out of the mother . Female elephants usually stand while giving birth, so the baby just dropped right out of her after she gave her most powerful push. It was such a beautiful moment that would make anyone smile and cry at the same time. Her herd had to give her some space to get her baby out, but an incredible thing happened when the new member was finally born.
Every member of the herd, including the young ones who were not much bigger than the newborn, crowded round the baby and began trumpeting loudly, celebrating by instinct the arrival of their newest member. They formed a protective circle around the child, with the younger members nosing the newborn who couldn’t stand yet. It was raining heavily and they didn’t try to seek shelter from the cold. Instead, they used their large bodies to form a canopy to keep the newborn warm.
They were trumpeting to celebrate the mother and her child, and also to ward off any predators who may have thought that a fresh, soft, newborn elephant was easy prey. The tourists were stunned to their bones at the pure act of love, solidarity, and unity.
Elephants are special
Elephants do not only celebrate their newborns, but they also mourn their dead. They’ve been found to show symptoms of grief and heartbreak when a member of their herd dies. They are so affectionate that they would caress the body of the deceased member with their trunks, standing grimly around the body for hours, paying their last respects .
Elephants also have photographic memories, and they ever forget a member of their herd. An amazing instance was a true story of two elephants, Shirley and Jenny, who were reunited after 20 years in a circus. They immediately recognized each other and bonded instantly .
“Elephants are able to track one another over large distances by calling to each other and using their sense of smell,” said Dr. Shermin de Silva, director of the Uda Walawe Elephant Research Project in Sri Lanka . “So the ‘herd’ of elephants one sees at any given time is often only a fragment of a much larger social group. Our work shows that they are able to recognize their friends and renew these bonds even after being apart for a long time.”
Elephants take great pride in their newborns, and that’s something we humans can relate to. There’s nothing more fulfilling than the sight of your flesh and blood taking in their first breath!
“7 Behaviors That Prove Elephants Are Incredibly Smart“, Mental Floss. April 2017.
“Elephant Gives Birth In Middle Of Safari, Leaves Tourists Baffled When Herd’s Instincts Kick In“, The Rain Forest.
“A New Video Shows How Elephants Pay Their Respects to the Dead“, The Cut. September 2016.
“Fact or Fiction? Elephants Never Forget”, Scientific American. January 2009.
“Social networking elephants never forget“, Science Daily. July 2011.