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Video: Elephants Grieve at Grave


One of the qualities that make elephant such a fascinating and endearing species is their capacity to feel and display (human-like) emotions. The conservation team at Kariega Game Reserve recently dug up the gravesite of an elephant bull to recover a tusk that could not be extracted when the bull died ten years previously. Just days later this video footage was captured as the rest of the herd visited the grave. It is moving to watch them remembering and paying their respects to a loved member of the herd.

Elephant Live in Herds for up to 70 Years

The bonds between members of an elephant herd are as strong as the bonds between humans families. When a loved one dies they are mourned by the rest of the herd. Mothers and aunts have been observed mourning a stillborn calf. The mother’s grief is particularly obvious - her eyes look sunken, her ears droop and she is visibly sad and depressed.

Elephant Try to Bury their Dead

In the wild, when there is no interference from humans, the herd will ceremoniously walk back and forth in search of leaves and twigs which they use to cover the body of the deceased. Similarly, if they come across an old grave site, or old bones they will pause and pay their respects, just as they have shown in this video.

Were you lucky enough to spend time with one of the Kariega elephant herds on your safari trip? Tell us your story and post your pictures to our Facebook page. We love hearing from you.