Thursday, October 21, 2010

How Male Elephants Bond

The November issue of Smithsonian has a gorgeous shot of a large bull (male) elephant on the cover and lots of interesting elephant information inside.

A team of researchers and students visiting Namibia’s Etosha National Park in Africa observed the friendship patterns of male elephants, typically known to be loners. At Amboseli National Park in Kenya, bull elephants have been observed to have another bull elephant "best friend" who they remain friends with for years. A different study conducted in Botswana showed that the adolescent male elephants often sought out the older more mature males to learn social behaviors from them. It was here at Amboseli that researchers noticed something very interesting: elephants have their own cultural traditions and mores.

One particular alpha bull elephant named Greg carried himself with the presence of a high ranking mafioso boss. Confidence seemed to exude from him as he swaggered over to the watering hole for a drink. The other bull elephants would tentatively approach and very slowly and carefully place the tip of their quivering trunks into his mouth, a sign of deference in the elephant world. Then slowly back away.

Humans aren't the only species where traditions are carefully honored and certain individuals hold esteemed positions in society. 

More stuff from this interesting issue here:
Animals Matter.

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