The elephant’s closest relative looks like a guinea pig. The rock hyrax is a small, furry, rat-like mammal that lives in rocky landscapes across sub-Saharan Africa and along the coast of the Arab peninsula. Elephants and rock hyraxes share common features like having two tusks and nails instead of claws, but their closest common ancestor died out 60 million years ago.
In 2003 a herd of wild elephants released a group of captive antelopes from a game reserve in Southeast Africa. The matriarch of the herd undid all of the gate’s metal latches with her trunk & then pushed it open. The antelope took their chance & ran into the bush followed by the elephants.
A researcher once played a recording of an elephant who had died. The sound was coming from a speaker hidden in a thicket. The family went wild calling, looking all around. The dead elephant’s daughter called for days afterward. The researchers never again did such a thing.
An Elephant, Kosik, can speak 5 words in Korean, “sit, no, yes and lie down.” He creates the words by putting his trunk in his mouth and vibrating it. He is the only elephant scientifically proven to speak human words.
Elephants can tell your ethnicity by listening to your voice, sniffing out your scent and even recognizing your clothing. This allows them to avoid humans who have regular conflicts with elephants.
Elephants know to come to humans for help (like if they’ve been poisoned) and can find us even over long distances.
An elephant in India, while helping villagers lift logs, refused to lower a log into a certain hole because a dog was sleeping in it. Only after the dog was chased away would the elephant lower the log into the hole.
A charging elephant broke down the door and a wall of a home in India, but immediately stopped when it heard a baby crying. It then removed the debris from the child using its trunk and peacefully returned to the forest.
When going to battle Rajputs would fashion false trunks for their horses, making them appear to be baby elephants which the enemy’s elephants instinctively would not attack.
Marc Gross uses Google Earth and drones to shoot elephants with Capsaicin paintballs, deterring them from poachers.
Elephants not only tend to grieve for their dead, they also have the ability to recognize skulls of other elephants. They examine the remains with their feet and trunks, paying special attention to the skulls and tusks of even long-dead elephants.
In 2004 an elephant charged and killed a mother and her child, then proceeded to bury their bodies before leaving the scene.