Elephants have characteristics that we would do well to model in our lives. For example, elephants don’t usually try to get increased dominance since status seeking is not a big part of the elephant society. What elephants respect is experience. The matriarch is the oldest and largest female in an elephant herd. Some things the matriarch might have learned decades earlier might come in handy to help the herd survive years later. For example, the matriarch might lead the herd to a water hole she remembers from years past. Families that have a matriarch over 35 years old have a better survival rate. Experience does help. Matriarchs make good leaders and the members of the herd respect her.
All female elephants in a family will help a baby in trouble. If a baby falls, all the females will run over to the baby to see if she is ok. One time Cynthia Moss, a renown elephant researcher, saw a baby elephant fall into a steep-sided water hole. The mother and the aunt could not lift her out. So other elephants in the family came to help by starting to dig and made a ramp to save the baby. Elephants understand the importance of cooperation.
Elephants also show empathy. One time, researchers saw an elephant whose trunk was badly injured. Elephants need their trunk in helping them eat. An elephant plucked up some food and placed it into the injured elephant’s mouth. But, it is not just for elephants that they show empathy. One time there was a herder in Africa whose leg was broken accidentally during a confrontation with a matriarch. After the matriarch saw that he could not walk, the elephant moved him a short distance with her trunk and her front feet. She propped him up under a tree. She guarded him throughout the night. Empathy is a wonderful trait to have.
Elephants don’t stand for bullying. If a calf is caught bullying a younger member of the the group, the calf is reprimanded by other members of the herd. Elephants are taught to be kind from a young age. What a wonderful trait!
African elephants can live to around 60 to 70 years old. But, rarely do you find one living alone. That is different from our society where our senior citizens many times live by themselves.
Elephants show some wonderful traits like respect for the elders, cooperation, empathy, and caring for the older elephants. Next time you are watching elephants, think about what caring animals they are.