Wild Stories – Elephant Altruism
After I posted Wild Fact #992 – A Death in the Family I came across some interesting stories about elephants showing sensitivity and altruism. I started to think that there are probably a lot of stories out there that display the capacity of animal intelligence. So as an added bonus I will pass along these fascinating stories as I come across them.
I will start with one that I found about the gentle nature of elephants.
The Ranch Herder
This is a story I came across from a book titled “Coming of Age with Elephants” by Joyce Poole. She retold a story about a ranch herder that was by himself in the wilderness when he came across a family of elephants. The matriarch, being the protective leader, charged the ranch herder and broke one of his legs. I know this doesn’t sound like a very altruistic behaviour but just bear with me. When the herder didn’t arrive home that night they sent a search party out to look for him. They found the man without any difficulties, however, they had to deal with a protective elephant guarding the wounded man. Once they scared the elephant away the ranch herder told them that he was unable to stand up. The man recounted how the elephant lifted the man with her trunk and placed him under a shady tree. From then on she spent the day guarding the man and would gently touch him with her trunk from time to time. This shows the true altruism of elephants as the elephant would not benefit from spending her day looking after a human.
If you are interested in hearing about more from Joyce Poole and how she grew up studying the behaviour of elephants then be sure to pick up her book: Coming of Age With Elephants