Elephant Death Rites

August 4,2010 by

One of those small happenings where the elephant and the human worlds meet ….. Villagers from Wami told me about an elephant that had died nearby from natural causes (old age or disease). A group of about 6-8 elephants remained, standing around and apparently watching over the dead body which they covered with earth and branches. They stayed for around 4 days before moving on and leaving just one elephant who stayed for another 3 or 4 days before she left too.

An article the 8 Oct 2006 New York Times Magazine discusses elephant mourning in greater detail, “When an elephant dies, its family members engage in intense mourning and burial rituals, conducting weeklong vigils over the body, carefully covering it with earth and brush, revisiting the bones for years afterward, caressing the bones with their trunks, often taking turns rubbing their trunks along the teeth of a skull’s lower jaw, the way living elephants do in greeting.”

Robin Easton commented:

August 4th, 2010 at 12:40 pm

This moves me to tears. I posted it on my Facebook and Twitter pages and wrote: “Who are we humans to decide that other animal species have no emotions, no intelligence, no rituals, no caring, no love? Maybe our inability to see these things in other species, says more about us than them.” Thank you for sharing this post. It is SO important.

jean commented:

August 26th, 2011 at 10:55 am

Thats so beautiful of you Robin.

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