Elephants bury their relatives in much the same way as people

Elephants are one of the most intelligent animals on Earth, and this has been proven through numerous studies. For example, one experiment showed that they easily recognize themselves in the mirror – this is evidence that they have self-awareness. They are also able to remember objects of different shapes and sound signals, that is, they have a well-developed memory. Elephants can also use tools like tree branches to repel insects. In addition to all this, these large creatures love members of their groups and carefully care for sick individuals. Recently, scientists observed Indian elephants and learned that after the death of their cubs, they grieve greatly and carry out burial rituals – in this way they are very similar to people.

Elephants bury their relatives in almost the same way as people. Indian elephants have a ritual for burying their young. Photo.

Indian elephants have a ritual for burying their young

How elephants behave after the death of a baby

The fact that Indian elephants know how to bury and mourn dead babies was described in the scientific publication Science Alert. This became known during observation of animals in Bengal, a historical region in the northeastern part of South Asia.

Scientists have witnessed several times how Indian elephants carried the bodies of dead calves, holding them by the torso and legs with the help of their trunks. They carried them exclusively to irrigation canals on tea plantations, which were located hundreds of meters from human settlements. The animals placed the bodies of their young upside down and buried them with their legs sticking out.

How elephants behave after the death of a baby. Buried baby elephant. Photo.

Buried baby elephant

In total, scientists found five such burials, and they were made in 2022 and 2023. In one case, elephants trumpeted loudly near a buried body after the ritual. But in all five situations, they left the place after 40 minutes and never returned there – during migration they chose a different route.

Interesting fact:The difference between African and Indian elephants is not only in their habitats. Indian elephants are much smaller in size, they have only one grasping growth on the trunk, as well as two bumps on the forehead. African elephants are large, have two grasping growths and only one bump on the head.

How elephants behave after the death of a baby. African elephant (left) and Indian elephant (right). Photo.

African elephant (left) and Indian elephant (right)

Subsequently, near the graves, scientists counted the tracks of 15 to 20 elephants. All cubs died as a result of multiple organ failure between the ages of three months and one year. Multiple organ failure is a life-threatening condition in which two or more systems in the body fail. For example, such death occurs with simultaneous respiratory, liver and heart failure.

Read also:What elephants lived 300,000 years ago and why did they become extinct?

How much weight can an elephant lift?It is important to note that Indian elephants only bury their young in this manner. According to scientists, they cannot bury adults in the same way simply because they weigh too much. It is believed that large males, with the help of their trunk, are able to understand an object weighing up to 300 kilograms. And adult individuals weigh from 3 to 5 tons, depending on gender – males are always heavier than females. Baby elephants weigh about 300 kilograms, so their bodies are easy to lift, especially in a group of animals.

How much weight can an elephant lift. Indian elephants can lift a load weighing up to 300 kilograms. Photo.

Indian elephants can lift loads weighing up to 300 kilograms

IMPORTANT:Elephants are very strong, so people use them as a means of transportation and force them to lift heavy objects during construction and deforestation. But they are used as pets only in India, because only Indian elephants are well domesticated.

Intelligence of elephants

The results of the study once again showed that elephants are very smart animals. Previously, articles with evidence of their intelligence have already been published on our website. For example, in 2023, my colleague Andrei Zhukov spoke in detail about the fact that they are the only animals in the world that address each other by name. Scientists learned this when they carefully studied 527 recordings of elephant calls.

Intelligence of elephants. Elephants are very sociable animals - they have their own mysterious language. Photo.

Elephants are very sociable animals – they have their own mysterious language

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Matriarchy reigns in elephant herds, that is, adult females play the main role in them. They are engaged in raising the cubs, and males stay in separate groups and join representatives of the other sex only for mating. It is important to note that in male herds, young individuals often show aggression – sometimes they attack livestock, people and even cars. Several years ago, scientists observed them and found out the reason for their anger. You can find out more in our article “Scientists have discovered why young elephants behave aggressively.”