Elephant society - utopia in the animal kingdom
Elephants are one of the largest land mammals alive. They live in family groups called herds which are led by the oldest females, daughters of the matriarch. When males become adults (at about 14 years of age), they leave their herd and live on their own or in loose bachelor herd. Male groups usually consist of one older male and a bunch of younger males, who learn from their older comrade.Elephants are one of the largest land mammals alive. They live in family groups called herds which are led by the oldest females, daughters of the matriarch. When males become adults (at about 14 years of age), they leave their herd and live on their own or in loose bachelor herd. Male groups usually consist of one older male and a bunch of younger males, who learn from their older comrade. In contrast to the matriarchal herd, which maintains its members until death, these male-only groups are highly unstable and regularly change their members.
One possible explanation for such social structure is that it allows elephant males to mate with as many different females as possible. Females usually only have one calf every two or three years, so only the strongest male gets a chance to mate. It's usually a 30+ years old male who won the mating fight and gets to pass hes genes onto the next generation. Younger ones grow and learn from the older ones, so they can get a chance at mating when they are older.
Herds are very important to female elephants, they help to raise and protect calves and also provide support when the young females get ready to mate for the first time. It's only the herds who decide which male gets to mate with their young members, so they are very protective.
It's not surprising that elephants are dying of grief when one of their family is killed. Elephants are one the only species on earth who not only grieve for the dead but also perform death rituals. After a member of the herd dies, the rest of the herd stays with the body for days or weeks, sometimes trying to revive it. They often escort the dead body to a burial ground and cover it with leaves and branches. Sometimes they even bury their dead.
When female's calf dies, she goes through a process called the elephant grief. She will stay near her dead baby, because she can't understand that it is dead and even if she did, the body doesn't decay as fast as in humans which makes it harder to realize that its gone forever. She might try to pick up its leg or push it with her head. Every mother will go through this process, but it might vary from hours to days.
Elephants are also known to visit the graves of their dead. Death rituals are so important for an elephant herd that they also mourn the death of unknown elephants. If they find bones or bodies of another elephant, they do exactly what they would do if it was one of theirs. They treat it with care and respect, touching bones with their trunks. They are highly emotional creatures, so death rituals say a lot about how sensitive they are.
Many people think that death rituals are a way for elephants to say goodbye to their loved ones, but that's not the only reason. By performing these rituals, elephants create and strengthen social bonds within their herd. They also learn from one another how to deal with death. This is an important lesson, because death is a part of life and every member of the herd needs to learn how to deal with it.