Every single thing I learn about elephants makes me love them more. Unfortunately, I may be in the minority.
The World Elephant Day website reports that, with elephant numbers dropping 62% over the past 10 years, elephants may be extinct within another decade. Currently, roughly 100 African elephants are killed EVERY SINGLE DAY by poachers looking to collect ivory, meat, and other various body parts.
The Asian market, in particular, is a big consumer of ivory products, making this endeavor lucrative for poachers. In fact, in the four short years between 2010 and 2014, the price of ivory tripled in China, and right now, elephants are being killed off much quicker than they are able to reproduce.
Now, this is all infuriating enough as is, but what makes it truly heartbreaking is the fact that these elephants have been proven to be intelligent, compassionate, and empathetic creatures, capable of emotions, as well as heart-wrenching grief. When it comes down to it, I’d be willing to bet they are much more “human” than a lot of us.
Researchers have shown that elephants are extremely social creatures, and scientists have witnessed many cases of altruism and empathy in elephant societies. For example, the New York Times reports that elephants are one of few non-human animals that console each other when they are in distress.
The following video, a demonstration of impressive elephant teamwork, shows quite a few of these amazing behaviors: empathy, grief, altruism, and love— all over the course of a mere 30 minutes (or 30 seconds, with the power of editing).
The video was filmed in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe, at some point in 2015, but has only recently come to light. As the Newsflare description reads, “This is the touching moment [where] a female elephant rescued a baby from another herd which was abandoned by its mother when it became stuck in an irrigation channel.”
NewsFlare reports that lions were eyeing out the scene, watching the baby from afar and hoping for a chance to attack. The mother’s frantic reactions to her baby’s situation stressed the other animals, and she was finally chased away. Sometime afterward, a new elephant herd passed by and discovered the helpless baby. The matriarch of this new herd worked tirelessly for half an hour until the baby was finally free and reunited with its distressed mother.
It’s a touching reminder of the pure compassion and kindness of these tragically disgraced and unappreciated animals.
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