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Robert Ball

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Robbie developed a passion for the African bush from many visits to his family’s small holding in a greater conservancy just outside Johannesburg. Living in the big city his whole life, he always found refuge in the outdoors and has grown to appreciate ...

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on Elephant Mourning: Fact or Fiction?

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Robert, thank you for the blog and videos. I do not know the reason or cause for the elephants behaviors but, my suspicion and inclination is that they do recognize the remains of an individual and that their behavior is a form of remembering and mourning.

I have seen an Elephant touch and hold the bones of an Elephant that had died. It was incredibly moving and we eventually moved on as it felt as if we were intruding.

Truly a moving experience! There’s still so much we don’t understand…

Though we as humans do not really know what is going on in an elephant’s mind when he or she visits the place where one of their kind died, they certainly have emotions and express them by showing quite specific behavior.
It would really be interesting what they feel and think. However, we don’t know. But we should still show respect to all the animals, their ways of life and their behavior.That’s what we do in places like Londolozi. We should also show this respect in our home countries and areas.

Great comment.

Thank you so much!

Hi Robbie, looking at the video’s and seeing them move the bones around with their trunks, gives me the feeling that they are recognizing the elephant that died and they are paying their respect to that individual. They are very sociable animals and it just makes sense that they are mourning that individual. Maybe like we would go to a funeral of our loved ones and even revisit the grave for closure.

I actually remember Pete’s three blogs 4 years ago, and was so excited about the footage from the “bush camera”. There’s several elephant documentaries that discuss and illustrate this very subject that are truly fascinating and the consensus tends to favor elephants’ display of emotions – that they recognize their own and spend time with the bones to show respect.
Any time spent with elephants is special but to view this behavior is truly a gift.

I am still crying as I type this. It seems to me that the most reasonable assumption is that animals have emotions like ours until proven otherwise, rather than the reverse. Perhaps then we humans would treat our fellow creatures with more respect…and eventually recognize their rights. (P.S. Elephants are my favorite.)

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10 April, 2798
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