The African savannah elephant is the largest land mammal in the world. In folklore, elephants are known for not forgetting. For the African savannah elephant, memory is a tool for surviving challenges that may come intermittently over decades. Long-term memory tends to be vested in the older females, called matriarchs, without which the herd could die of starvation or dehydration. During the drought of 1993 in Tanzania, elephant matriarchs that remembered a similar drought 35 years before led their herds beyond the borders of Tarangire National Park in search of food and water. Groups with matriarchs that were not old enough to remember the previous drought suffered a 63 percent mortality of their calves that year. (Source: Wildlife Conservation Society)
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Elephants are not human, of course. They are something much more ancient and primordial, living on a different plane of existence. Long before we arrived on the scene, they worked out a way of being in the world that has not fundamentally changed and is sustainable, and not predatory or destructive.
Discover more interesting facts about Loxodonta africana.
Read the story of Satao, a bull elephant who lived in the arid plains northwest of Mombasa, who had tusks so long that when he walked they nearly scraped the ground.
– Posted by Jasmine Graf, NWNL Associate Director