Science asserts that humans have the capability for complex symbolic thought because showing concern for the dead reveals the cognitive ability to represent group members after they have died. Elephants are also known to bury their dead. They have this same cognitive ability.
The Maasai believe that only elephants and humans have souls. And souls or no souls, just look at these two. Smiling, caressing, these two are clearly pals.
See more in the Kenya Gallery at EarthPhotos.com, and see all the Friday Photos.
This photo was taken last month in the Amboseli National Park, Kenya, and finished in Photoshop to resemble an oil painting.
These two elephants, one caressing the other’s head with its trunk, seem to be expressing clear camaraderie if not outright affection. Which has prompted me to track down two books, When Elephants Weep: The Emotional Lives of Animals by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, and the newly published Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel by Carl Safina. Reading for a very wet weekend here on the farm.
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From a report titled “Vanishing Point: Criminality, Corruption and the Devastation of Tanzania’s Elephants,” by the Environmental Investigation Agency, as explained in the New York Times:
The organization has traced bribery and collusion in ivory smuggling to politicians from Tanzania’s governing party, led by President Jakaya Kikwete. When he took office in 2005, there were about 142,000 elephants in Tanzania. By the time Mr. Kikwete is to step down next year, the population is expected to have declined to just 55,000. Tanzania currently bans all domestic and international trade in ivory.”
The NYT article also alleges,
When President Xi Jinping of China and his entourage of government officials and business leaders arrived in Tanzania in March 2013 … members of the Chinese delegation used Mr. Xi’s visit as an opportunity to procure so much illegal ivory that local prices doubled to about $318 a pound.