It is always a privilege to spend time in nature and especially in the company of elephants, one of the most intelligent of the land mammals. To then be able to witness an elephant funeral is something that words are not able to describe, you need to be there to feel it.
During a safari in South Africa with Tim Brown Tours, we had word of the passing of an elephant bull after a confrontation with another male. As we set out to find it, we came across a scene that was both heartbreaking and touching, as the bull’s herd came to pay their respects.
Elephants live in close-knit herds for up to 70 years and form strong family bonds during this time, so when one of their kinsman dies, the rest of the herd mourn. The emotion that is shown by these great giants demonstrates an intelligence far beyond what we give them credit for.
Elephants’ capacity for grief is quite unique in the animal world where most wildlife will leave the sick and weak behind to die. Their emotions surrounding death are extremely complex and they continue to show signs of grief for a long time after a family member has passed away.
After standing in solidarity for some a while, the group took in the scent of their fallen family member one last time.
As you can imagine the longer you live and the more intelligent you are the more chance you will have of remembering other individuals, in this case other elephants. We have no doubt that this bull will not be forgotten by its herd anytime soon.
Once the elephants had paid their respects and the carnivores of the bush had their fill, rangers came to collect the elephant bull’s tusks to prevent them falling into the hands of poachers.