In elephant families, an older female often shoulders the role of leader. Family members take their cues from this matriarch, says Karen McComb, an animal behavior expert at the University of Sussex, U.K. She discovered that older matriarchs, too, are more adept at handling threats than less experienced animals. When confronted with a recording of a lion's roar, young elephants aren't as alarmed, but old matriarchs huddle up defensively to protect their families.
As anthropologist and author Barbara J. King explains at NPR, a group of elephants expressed grief over the passing of Eleanor, the matriarch of a family in Kenya:
When Eleanor died, a female called Maui, from [another] elephant family, hovered over her body, pulling on and rocking over it. During the next week, elephants from five different families came to the body. Some individuals seemed motivated only by curiosity. But the behavior of others... clearly involved grief.
The ivory trade drives a brutal campaign of international poaching that killed 22,000 elephants in 2012 alone, despite a global ban on the sale of ivory. Join us in pledging never to buy new or vintage ivory products -- which include narwhal, walrus and hippo ivory -- to help save the world's animals from poaching.