Elephant Social Behavior
Most researchers are extremely impressed by the social structure of the elephant. It is quite complex compared to that of most other animals out there. This social structure is also very different where the females live as a herd and the males are at. The females tend to spend their entire lives in the same herd. Therefore they are closely related to the others in it as they are all siblings, parents of the younger generations, aunts, and even grandparents.
The females are extremely social with each other. Many people assume that elephants are playing around when they spray water, dirt, and mud from their trunk onto their backs. However, researchers believe this type of behavior is in place for them to cool off from the hot sun and even to offer some sunscreen.
At times it is possible for some of the herd to form a smaller group and to venture out on their own. Even when this occurs they remain very friendly when they see each other again. Elephants have strong memories so they can remember those that were originally part of their herd.
Not only do the females interact constantly among their own herd, they will do so with others around them as well. Their territory often overlaps that of many males but they are allowed to be through there without any conflicts arising most of the time. The males aren’t on their own from the very start though. In fact, that process is one that develops over time.
The males on the other hand tend to live a very isolated live except when they are searching for a mate. As the males get older they will start to travel on the outer edges of the heard instead of in the middle where the young usually are at. Then they will venture off for a couple of days at a time. Each time that amount of time will gradually increase until they no longer return to the herd. This is when they are approximately 14 years of age so they are part of this sophisticated social structure for a very long time.
Males have been known to form bachelor herds, but there is a great deal of aggression among them. The fight for who will dominate the group continues on a regular basis. This tension is believed to be the reason why many of the males choose to leave such a group and venture around on their own. If the male is very weak it may be forced from that bachelor herd as well.
The emotions of elephants are very important as well. They are able to cry just like humans are. They can be very emotional at times including the birth of new babies and at the death of others. Just like humans all of the attention is showered on a new baby when it is born. When a mother elephant is hurt or dies the others will step in to help ensure that the offspring survive. They are very good surrogates when they need to be.
Elephants aren’t always serious animals either. They love to play and are often seen doing so within their herds. They are very carefree at times as long as their basic needs are being met. When food is scarce or there are dangers the mood of the herd becomes very protective and serious.
The intelligence of the elephant is something that people are intrigued by. The brain of one weighs up to 11 pounds. They are able to identify themselves in mirrors and definitely have an idea of who they are as an individual as well as their place within the group.