Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Dumbo is not dumb

All of my close friends know that I have a special fondness for orangutans. I have even written a fiction story about this creature which can be read in SMK Convent Ipoh school magazine year 2009. In this blog, you can also find it being mentioned in About Me.

Today, through my random surfing online, I have stumbled upon a Wiki page about elephant cognition. I was surprised to find that elephants are actually quite intelligent! They have the greatest volume of cerebral cortex available for cognitive processing of all existing land animals. They can self-medicate, use tools, solve problems, recognise their own reflections and mimic sounds.

However, what fascinates me the most is their social behaviour. The following is an excerpt from "Elephant Memories" by Cynthia Moss

"The elephant has one of the most closely knit societies of any living species. Elephant families can only be separated by death or capture. Cythia Moss, an ethologist specialising in elephants, recalls an event involving a family of African elephants. Two members of the family were shot by poachers, who were subsequently chased off by the remaining elephants. Although one of the elephants died, the other, named Tina, remained standing, but with knees beginning to give way. Two family members, Trista and Teresia (Tina's mother), walked to both sides of Tina and leaned in to hold her up. Eventually, Tina grew so weak, she fell to the ground and died. However, Trista and Teresia did not give up but continually tried to lift her. They managed to get Tina into a sitting position, but her body was lifeless and fell to the ground again. As the other elephant family members became more intensely involved in the aid, they tried to put grass into Tina's mouth. Teresia then put her tusks beneath Tina's head and front quarters and proceeded to lift her. As she did so, her right tusk broke completely off, right up to the lip and nerve cavity. The elephants gave up trying to lift Tina but did not leave her; instead, they began to bury her in a shallow grave and throw leaves over her body. They stood over Tina for the night and then began to leave in the morning. The last to leave was Teresia."

Are you touched? I was.. T_T

At the turn of the 20th century, there were a few million African elephants and about 100,000 Asian elephants. Today, there are only about 450,000 - 700,000 African elephants and 35,000 - 40,000 wild Asian elephants still roaming around. There are two main reasons why elephants are endangered: poaching (illegal hunting) and habitat loss. You can help by doing the simplest step, not supporting ivory trade.


Sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elephant_intelligence
                 http://www.defenders.org/elephant/basic-facts