Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Polaris of Enlightenment

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Polaris of Enlightenment

Elephants bury their young

Published 5 May 2024
- By Editorial Staff
According to the World Wildlife Fund, there are fewer than 50,000 Asian elephants left in the wild today.

Asian elephants move and bury their young, according to an observational study from India. However, unlike other elephants, they did not return to the burial sites, but instead took detours past them.

Researchers from the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) and others observed five instances of wild Asian elephants in northern Bengal burying their dead calves. The sightings took place in 2022 and 2023.

The study, published in the Journal of Threatened Taxa, found that the elephants carried the dead calves for some distance before finding a suitable place to bury the calf with its feet up. The areas where the elephants live consist of fragmented forest, tea plantations and farmland. All of the calves were buried in irrigation canals on tea plantations, hundreds of meters from the nearest human settlement.

In one case, the herd roared and trumpeted loudly around the buried calf. Footprints of between 15 and 20 elephants could be seen at all the burial sites, suggesting that the entire herd was involved in the burial. There was no evidence of human interference.

Social animals

Elephants are known for their intelligence and social behavior. They can cry, play and laugh, according to the WWF, but the behavior of burying their calves has only been briefly studied in African elephants.

Wild elephants in both Africa and Asia are known to visit carcasses in various stages of decomposition, but this study found different behaviors in the herds studied. In all five cases, the herd “fled the site within 40 minutes of burial”, according to the study. Later, they even avoided returning to the site, taking detours instead.

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