Why elephants never forget

We all tend to forget a lot of things, but we all surely remember a few important details and moments. That’s what makes us humans special- the ability to think, remember and do our work.

Most of us must have heard the saying, ” Elephants never forget“. Its the most common idiom used to refer someone with a good memory.

Is it true?

Even though the saying is a bit exaggerated, there has been real incidents that proved the truth behind elephants good memory and intelligence.


Elephant’s Brain

Elephants are not only the largest land mammal but also possess the largest brain, weighing about 5 kg. Elephant brain is about three times larger the human brain containing about 260 billion neurons. About 97.5% of these neurons are present in the cerebellum, making them more specialized in sensorimotor abilities while there is only less number of neurons in the cerebral cortex making them less specialized in cognitive abilities.

So, even when elephants have such an amazing memory they remember mainly by sense or sight.

Elephant’s Memory

Elephants are social animals, mostly found in groups, they mingle and supports their fellow beings.

There had been a lot real life incidents showcasing the memory power of elephants. The conclusions drawn from researches done on elephant’s behavioural and character traits are as follows:

  1. Elephants can recognise people, places considering the situations. They can remember the fellow herd members and also can identify long lost friends from their own herd or other. Elephants can remember the fertile places where they could get abundant food, they can also remember the banks they visited in the past.
  2. Elephants are loyal and trust those who treats them well while they also holds grudges and takes revenge whenever possible. They even remember injuries.
  3. Elephants are kind and care for their fellow beings. They show altruism, the selfless concern  for the welfare of others. They are willing to help other species, even humans at times of distress.
  4. Elephants grieve over the death of their fellow herd members and also bury the dead and visits them.
  5. Elephants are often found playing and mimicking the sounds they hear.
  6. Elephants can also recognize themselves(self-reflection) in the mirror unlike other animals.
  7. Elephants can sense sounds and vibrations from long distance and can even recognize to an extent.

Follow The Wise

Elephants follow matriarchy. The herd is controlled and lead by the elder female of the gang. They supervises and controls the journey of elephants through the forests.

Do you know why the oldest member leads the elephants herd?

This natural rule has something to do with their memory.

In elephants, the brain sharpens and build up a strong memory over years and this allows them to identify enemies and friends. When the herd meets another unfamiliar elephant or any other animal, the matriarch signals and alerts her fellow members. The oldest members will also remember the water sources located far away and can guide the herd there, they can also detect chances of drought early, due to their past experiences in  about 60 year lifespan. Therefore, the oldest female member leaded herd have more chances of survival in drastic conditions than the herd leaded by younger females in elephants.

So, elephants hold the natural “Follow the Wise” rule.

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