Elephants are known for their social behavior, intelligence, and strong maternal instincts. Mother elephants are incredibly protective of their young and will do everything possible to keep them safe. The image of an African female elephant using her trunk to grab the baby elephant’s ᴄᴀʀᴄᴀss and carry it around for many days made many people sympathetic.
The photos were taken by employees of Twyfelfontein Country Lodge located in the Twyfelfontein Uibasen Reserve in the Huab valley in the Kunene region of Namibia. The image shows the mother elephant using her trunk to wrap the baby elephant’s ʙᴏᴅʏ, strolling across the grasslands.
William Stegmann, an officer at Twyfelfontein Country Lodge, shared that mother elephant Rosy gave birth on October 27, 2022. Rosy is also the leader of a group of elephants in this area. Right after birth, the baby elephant was not very strong and struggled to keep up with her herd as it had to travel long distances to get to drinking water. Just a day after giving birth, the baby elephant ᴅɪᴇᴅ.
Employees at Twyfelfontein Country Lodge have seen the mother swaddling her baby’s ᴄᴀʀᴄᴀss, walking around with her herd, and only putting the baby down when it’s necessary to eat. Mother elephants also eat less. The mother elephant did not leave the baby’s ᴄᴀʀᴄᴀss for the next two days.
The behavior of carrying a ᴅᴇᴀᴅ cub has also been observed in Asian elephants. These behaviors are similar in primates, seemingly dispelling the widespread belief that only humans are aware of ᴅᴇᴀᴛʜ. However, science still does not fully understand the mechanism or motivation for a mother to carry a ᴅᴇᴀᴅ baby.
According to the scientists, the mother’s grief response may be due to a combination of the fact that elephants have a very long gestation period (22 months), which causes them to spend a lot of emotion on their young. Their large brains, intelligence, and sociability can also help them “understand” ᴅᴇᴀᴛʜ to some extent.
Elephants are intelligent and highly social creatures. They usually live in herds with leader females. To date, they are one of the few animals that know how to use tools – a clear sign of intelligence and recognize themselves in mirrors – something only apes and dolphins can do.
According to Professor Bob Jacobs, professor of ɴᴇᴜʀᴏᴀɴᴀᴛᴏᴍʏ and animal communication at the University of Colorado, these animals have the same basic neural structure as humans: they have a cortico-limbic system in the brain related to the brain, emotions are similar to humans.
Although we can never know the exact thoughts/emotions in the elephant’s brain, there is reason to assume that this mammal also feels ᴘᴀɪɴ, pleasure, and ᴘᴀɪɴ depending on the same circumstances people feel.
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