Much like hu­mans

Down to Earth - - BOOK -

be­tween ele­phants and hu­mans are far reach­ing and call for an at­ti­tude of hu­man-ele­phant co­ex­is­tence. We, in the ab­sence of med­i­cal ad­vances, share a sim­i­lar life­span of around 60-70 years. Like hu­mans, their mam­mary glands are lo­cated be­tween the forelegs which en­able the nurs­ing young to be con­stantly re­as­sured by the pre­hen­sile trunk. As a mother can stroke or even groom her suck­ling baby in a dex­ter­ous way, ele­phant cows en­sure strong bonds with their in­fants right from the start by making ex­ten­sive use of their tac­tile and flex­i­ble trunks.At birth,an ele­phant’s brain is 35 per cent of the adult weight which is com­pa­ra­ble to 26 per cent in man as op­posed to 90 per cent of the adult weight in most other mam­mals. Hence ele­phants and hu­mans both share a pro­longed pe­riod of learn­ing and flex­i­bil­ity in be­hav­iour as they slowly de­velop into adult­hood.Ele­phants’brains have a rel­a­tively large hip­pocam­pus (a com­po­nent of the brain that is in­volved in stor­ing mem­ory) com­pared to pri­mates which may ex­plain their long so­cial and chem­i­cal mem­o­ries. Con­se­quently they keep track spa­tially of where other in­di­vid­u­als are rel­a­tive to them­selves, and it has even been shown that ele­phants can recog­nise groups of hu­mans that pose dif­fer­ent de­grees of dan­ger. The au­thor co-founded the Trans­bound­ary

Ele­phant Re­search Pro­gramme


brains have large

stor­ing ca­pac­ity

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