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.”
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