Friday, August 2, 2013


Elephants, like humans, have rituals for the hard facts of life. The reproduction, birth, and eventual death of an Elephant is enacted n with a special kind of consciousness that is not only aware, but full of deep emotion.

A Bull Elephant woos the female by nuzzling and becoming affectionately closer to her. The female chooses to accept his attempts by returning these gestures, and the magic process may happen - hopefully at the right time (elephants are only fertile for a few days each year).

Elephants stay pregnant longer than any other land animal. Twenty-two months is the average gestation period, and mating occurs approximately every four years. The calf can weigh up to 130 pounds, but usually settles in the 100 lbs range.

The baby Elephant will be born without sight, and the mother elephant sometimes has to jolt the young calf awake by kicking it around on the ground. This is the human equivalent to slapping a baby's bottom. Once the calf is awake, it learns very quickly how to walk in order to keep moving with the herd, as it is at a particularly vulnerable point, being just born.

Hopefully the elephant has lived a long life, sometimes they can contract a disease, or simply become old and die. Having no natural predator - except for the unlikely lion, hyena, cheetah, or, more likely; a poacher - the elephant has a life span of around 60-80 years. After one dies, especially the matriarch, the herd of Elephants will mourn it's passing in a gentle and emotional ceremony.

An Elephant parade will recognize the bones of their deceased matriarch, and will begin the mourning ceremony by first gathering around the bones in a defensive circle facing outward. Then, the whole family of elephants will delicately pick up each bone with their trunk, and caress every crevasse completely. They then touch the bones with their hind feet, letting out mournful cries of grief and sorrow.

With a such a ceremony, Elephants do seem to have a certain understanding about death, perhaps similar to our own -- or perhaps even more drenched in an ancient wisdom that we have long forgotten.

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