So much has been said about Elephants, including how they may soon be facing extinction if the current status quo on poaching and habitat loss does not slow down or come to an end. But something tells me you may not have interacted with this side of the elephant.

  1. Elephants, humans, and Neanderthals are the only animals known to have death rituals. Among elephants, this involves observing a moment of silence before digging a shallow grave and covering the deceased elephant with dirt and branches and finally staying at the grave for days afterwards.
  2. Elephants are ‘compassionate’. If an elephant becomes sick, herd members will bring it food and help support it as it stands. When Lawrence Anthony, the ‘Elephant Whisperer’ died, a herd of elephants arrived at his house to mourn him. They say that for 12 hours, 2 herds of wild South African elephants slowly made their way through the bushes of Zululand until they reached the house of the late conservationist who, years before, had saved their lives when the violent, rogue jumbos destined to be shot, were brought to his home for rehabilitation!
  3. Elephants have been known to use and even manufacture simple tools. They use logs to neutralise electric fences and they pick up objects such as logs and rocks to throw at opponents. Elephants use leafy branches as fly switches, while selecting short, sturdy branches to remove ticks from themselves. Researchers also found that Asian elephants even modify longer branches in order to make the ‘ideal’ fly switching length.
  4. Elephants, like cats, purr as a means of communication even though scientists at the University of Vienna think this is actually a myoelastic aerodynamic noise production which is also the means by which we speak and sing.  But besides the purr, did you know elephants each other’s trumpeting call for up to 8 KM away?
  5. Elephants are scared of bees. According to scientists at Oxford University, Elephants flee the sound of angry bees, with the vast majority turning to run within seconds of hearing the sound of buzzing. Researchers have for some time now been running trials to see if this new discovery about Elephants can be used to reduce human-elephant conflicts. In Kenya, this has proved quite successful in Kirinyaga with the beehive fences project.

Did you know all this about elephants? What other cool unknown elephant facts do you know of?