Do Elephants Grieve

»»Do Elephants Grieve

Elephants are one of the oldest living animals that have ever roamed the world. They have long existed for 35 million years now. The first elephant that was reasonable enough to be called an elephant was the Palaeomastodon, they looked like a dwarf elephant that had tusks and small trunks (The Elephants). Fossils of elephants of hundreds of species were found all over the world except Australia and Antarctica, but inconsolably only two survived in Africa and Asia. Of all animals apes, dolphins and elephants were reported to be the most social and emotional animals out there. With it being the most emotional and social elephants actually, grieve their loved ones and have a hard time moving on.

Scientists have always been afraid to project similarities between elephants and humans fearing anthropomorphism. But the similarities have been showcased in numerous manners and behaviors. It is not surprising that some animals and humans generally can have homogenous qualities; humans are not the only creatures built with the luxury of intelligence and emotions. Dogs protect their owners, birds migrate together and elephants grieve their deceased. (Elephants are like us)

Elephants are highly intelligent creatures. They can identify and tell the difference between people’s ethnicity, age, and gender through their voices allowing them to recognize and with the help of their very strong memory they can also remember how they feel towards them and act upon. Nevertheless, they understand body language, pointing and recognize themselves in reflections.

Elephants live in a disciplined social structure where everyone has a role. They are usually born in tribes consisting female elephants and calves led by a matriarch that has more experience seemingly of being older and put in more situations; males tend to become independent and live alone when they reach adulthood. Usually, the matriarch leads the tribe to places where there is safety, water, and food are found. Elephants have their own language conveyed in different means of communications from high-frequency sounds, to low-frequency sounds that humans can’t really hear; they can also communicate with vibrations through their feet. An elephant takes about two years of pregnancy to give birth to a calf and the calf is nursed for four years afterward. Calf reaches out to touch the mother or and old close relative every few seconds for reassurance. Elephants pretty much grow up together and have great memories to

remember each other that contributes to the tight bond they have together made them used to one another’s existence. (Elephants grieving BBC wildlife)

National Geographic has recorded many documentaries showing elephant’s emotional sides, bonds and rituals. It has been recorded that after the loss of a loved one funeral is held a number of behaviors are being showcased. Some elephants show grief physically they start to sniff and move around what is left of the body (usually bones) of the deceased attempting to resolve their confusion attempting to recognize if it’s a relative. Some elephants try to carry the deceased body right after they die thinking they would stand up again. They then stand still around the corpse for hours maybe days which might be them giving respect to the dead. Some are very emotional that they stroke the corpse gently with their trunk as if they are comforting. Others start crying from both eyes out of sadness over the loss. (Honeyborn, 2013) (National Geographic elephants mourning)

Because we cannot understand what elephants say or know about the conversations they have all we can do is assume according to their behavior. The sudden loss of presence may be the key to what makes elephants grieve. The strong tribal bond they have alongside their great ability to memorize makes it very difficult to ignore the event or forget it. They are born emotional and overly attached; the two-year pregnancy with the four years of nursing was enough to do the trick.

Elephants have a network that links tribes to each other just like we have the World Wide Web linking us together. A study made by Dr. Caitlin E. O’Connell about seismic communications shows that elephants send frequencies through 10-40 Hz that can travel 50 miles or more in a few seconds through the earth’s surface connecting them all together. (Seismic communication) This communication method contributes to their strong bond making tribe know more tribes, having more relatives, helping one another, who knows what they say to each other, but we know that they talk to each other.

Elephants can discriminate each other, they know each other and when they find a corpse they try to find out whose child that is? Which tribe’s matriarch that is? Is it their friend maybe? It’s a big chance it is someone they know and end up recognizing them. They stand for long hours to show respect and what looks like reminiscence.

The elephant grief only grows larger to the increasing number of deaths they are facing making the last two elephant species extinct more every day. The UN has reported that 100  elephants are hunt down every day by poachers for their tusks to manufactured or crafted into ivory. Alongside longevity and disease less than 750,000 elephants are left worldwide. (Cause of deaths) (Elephant count) (Elephants killed/ day)


Elephants have a million reason to grieve and they have a million things to grieve about. From a member of the tribe to their own dying kind, it would make sense the emotions that run in them when dealing with death or finding corps everywhere. Elephants are family creatures, any dead corps is some’s child and with their memories and the average 70 years, they live it’s easy to say that every elephant has a million memory of so many elephants that is would make them have the courtesy of grieving like humans.

In order to end the suffering of those lovable and kind animals severe actions should be taken to fight against their extinction and slow down their death rates. In order to do that severe reinforced law and punishment should apply to hunting and ivory trade. Also, preventing global warming to increase green land for elephants to feed on; an average adult elephant feeds on nearly 135 kilos of grass every day. Even though elephants consume so much they contribute to nature and living things by the food they digest comes out very fertile that make more grass. Elephants are very peaceful until threatened, they deserve some peace too.

By |2017-06-16T21:15:49+00:00June 21, 2017|Categories: , , |Tags: |0 Comments

About the Author:

Raised in the St. Louis area, Brandy has been an obsessed animal lover since birth. Her dream is to own a petting zoo and an animal shelter when she "grows up".

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