It isn’t just us humans who rely on family and social bonds. There are all sorts of animals that build complex little societies. Elephants are one of the most remarkable examples.
A “matriarch,” usually the eldest female is the cornerstone of tight-knit elephantine family groups. These are extended families composed of females and calves; when the male elephants grow up, they leave the group and either live on their own or find a group of other males to socialize with. Another layer of elephant society comes from a “fission-fusion” process where different family groups get together and socialize, with family groups coming and going. A special short-term elephant organization is the “clan.” This involves a number of families banding together for some specific purpose like defending a grazing area during lean times.
A couple sure signs of how intelligent and sophisticated elephants’ minds are their possession of self-awareness and also empathy for other elephants. For instance, it’s known that they experience actual grief when a member of their group is dying or has died. Elephants also look out for each other: when a family group is on the move, it will form a kind of convoy surrounding and protecting the calves.
We’ve posted a video for you below that dramatically illustrates how elephants will help other elephants. This herd was on the march when a calf collapsed in the middle of the road. She was probably just exhausted. But needless to say, the middle of a road isn’t a great place for resting up and the other elephants are well-aware of this. So several of them gathered around and gave her some gentle nudges, hoping to encourage her to get up. An adult and a younger elephant stay to keep at it and after some more prodding, the calf was helped up and escorted to safety.
Does this give you a new sense of respect for these amazing creatures? Let us know in the Facebook comments and be sure to like and share!