Female Courage and Pride
from the book, "Our Fascinating Earth"

Book: 
Our Fascinating Earth

Female Courage and Pride

To the casual observer a herd of feeding elephants is oblivious to the world around them. In a way this is true, because their concentration is on feeding. They are far from defenseless, however, because feeding elephants always post sentries at critical points to warn them of an approaching enemy, usually in the form of man.

When danger does threaten, the sentry raises its trunk, and the herd is instantly alerted as far as a half mile sway. The method of communication is not yet understood, but many scientists believe that a sound inaudible to humans is emitted by the elephant sentry.

Among the elephants it is usually the female who has the courage to face whatever peril is threatening, and the male is the first to flee. The female will get between the male and the source of danger and actually push him into the dense brush out of harm's way. Usually the brave male keeps right on going, leaving the female and her youngsters to get out of trouble the best way they can.

Merely wounding an elephant can be quite dangerous, whatever the nature of the wound. In 1980 an African game warden driving his field car on a dirt road swung around a steep curve after nightfall and unwittingly collided with a departing female elephant, striking her on the hind legs. In retaliation the offended pachyderm promptly sat down on the hood of the car, completely crushing it and causing both front tires to blow out.

Apparently satisfied, and none the worse for wear, the elephant got to her feet and casually wandered off. The car did not fare so well; it was a total wreck, and the warden had to signal for help. Fortunately the radio was still working.