They discovered that Asian elephants ritually bury their young when they die

A study conducted by the Pune Institute of Science Education and Research found this Humans are not the only organisms that have rituals to deal with deathbut that Some animals also have these behaviors Individuals when they suffer the loss of a close member.

the Asian elephants They are an example. The revelation was included in research conducted between 2022 and 2023 by two Indian scientists: Akashdeep Roy of the Institute of Science Education and Research in Pune and Parveen Kaswan of the Indian Forest Service.

Phenomenon 'extremely rare in nature'

During the study they found up to Five cases of burying baby elephants: Parents carry the inactive bodies of their children for days until they find a suitable place to bury them, while showing their lamentations with their boxes. This phenomenon was recorded in the Bengal region, in the northeast of the country, and scientists say that humans did not interfere.

“Child burial is an extremely rare event in nature,” Roy noted in New Scientist.

Footprints and traces of dung found in all five graves indicate that elephants of all ages contributed to each burial. This proves a “Compassionate and helpful behavior” of members From the package.

Grief, in the family

The bodies were found in the same position: They are buried in drainage ditches opened by farmers and covered with soil with their legs raised. According to Roy, “This is the easiest position to carry a body and place it in the trenches.” It also allows “more than one group member to participate in the action.” The farmers interviewed said they heard elephants sweeping with their trunks.

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Roy believes that these sounds show “torment and pain” and also “pay homage to dead creatures.” Previous studies reveal this Asian elephants grieve as a familyRaman Sukumar, a researcher at the Indian Institute of Science, confirms in National Geographic magazine. These animals They respond to sadness with caresses and other displays of affection.

Cal confirms this This method is performed only with cubsAnd not with adults, because it is “useless” to transport and bury adults, given their size and weight, as stated in the investigation.

The bodies were discovered buried in drainage ditches dug by farmers and covered with soil with their legs raised. (West Bengal Forest Department)

Although African elephants had already been observed performing funerary rituals, covering their young with branches and leaves, research on Asian elephants became the answer. First record of elephants buried in a specific position and buried in soilLive Science reports. Asians do not bury their young anywhere, however They choose “secluded places, away from humans and carnivores.”.

Scientists exhumed the bodies of the buried mammals to study them and determined that their ages ranged between 3 months and a year, and some of them were suffering from malnutrition or had infections. next to, The blue color on the backs of each brood indicates that they have been dragged over long distances By adults to grave sites.

An Asian elephant carrying a calf for burial (West Bengal Forest Department)

Unlike African elephants, Asian elephants They do not return to the burial place, but choose other alternative routes when moving.

“There are unpublished reports from the West Bengal Forest Department of an elephant carrying a dead carcass for up to two days before abandoning it at a remote location in south Bengal. These sentient beings do not leave the corpse “Until rotting begins or until forest department officials take charge of the body,” the report added.

Expert explanations

Chase LaDue, a biologist with the Oklahoma Zoo and Botanical Garden, stresses the importance of the study because it shows “the social complexities of elephants.”

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“This is the first research to describe what appears to be a systematic burial of baby elephants after they were transported to the burial site. “The mental and emotional lives of elephants remain largely a mystery.”He will say no, Dio.

The biologist explains that this type of study may allow the development of new strategies to ensure the survival of these animals.

Asian elephants in the wild live 60 to 70 years on average. They are on the endangered species list Conducted by the International Union for Conservation of Nature it is estimated that about 26,000 specimens currently live in the wild, especially in India and some other countries in Southeast Asia.

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