Elephants hold 'funeral procession' for dead calf

A forest ranger has shared emotional footage of a troop of elephants apparently taking part in a funeral procession.

Parveen Kaswan, who works for the Indian Foreign Service, spotted a calf being carried through the undergrowth by an adult elephant.

They were then followed by at least eight others as they made their way across a road.

The footage shows what is believed to be the calf’s mother standing by the side of the road carrying the body.

She then lies the calf’s body down on the road before being joined by the rest of the troop.

Once they have all joined her she heads off into the undergrowth again, carrying the calf’s body.

Mr Kaswan tweeted the footage saying: ‘This will move you! Funeral procession of the weeping elephants carrying dead body of the child elephant.

‘The family just don’t want to leave the baby behind.’

Do elephants grieve

Whether or not elephants grieve for their lost herd members is a question scientists have been trying to answer.

As the animals live in tight herds and have long lifespans they form strong bonds between each other. When one dies, it is possible that the rest of the herd could mourn their death.

The Smithsonian Institution, which is the world’s largest museum, education and research complex, says that elephants are known to take a great interest in the bones of their deceased, and to mourn for dead relatives.

In 2016 a video of three different elephant families visiting the body of a dead matriarch and repeatedly smelling and touching the corpse was shared by a doctoral student.

It suggested that the animals may have had a deep emotional connection with the body and may have been experiencing grief.

Another video from this year shows the heart-breaking moment a baby elephant is seen trying to wake up its mother, who had collapsed and died after wandering into a village in India.

The small calf was using its trunk to stroke the mother’s head as she lay motionless in Odisha, east India.

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