Elephants have always been peaceful, altruistic animals. Their revered intelligence and their capability for empathy are some of the greatest among the animal kingdom. With that said, it was a surprise to all when citizens in West Bengal, India, reported a surge of elephant violence.
Humans aren’t the common prey for an elephant, but when an autopsy of a rogue female elephant revealed consumed human remains, experts theorized that violent human actions induced her unusual behavior.
The Peaceful Nature of Elephants
Elephants are known for their commonly peaceful attitudes. Instances of aggressiveness are rare. Adult female elephants only tend to show aggressive behaviors if a juvenile is near them, and adult male elephants become aggressive during musth. Raging reproductive hormones is one of the main conditions of musth, which is an indicator of good health for adult male elephants.
When elephants face a threat, they have many ways to confront the situation. They may stand taller, with their head and tusks lifted high, to display their dominance. They may also charge directly towards the threat. Furthermore, they may also choose to be simply submissive because of prevailing feelings of fear. (Source: South African National Parks)
When they’re not forcefully confronting a threat, they are selfless animals that usually aid other animals, including humans. Elephants also prove themselves to be intelligent and very empathetic creatures, with self-awareness and problem-solving skills.
With that said, it is evident that elephants are complex creatures that are not instinctively dangerous to the lives of others. Their cooperativeness and helpfulness towards themselves and other animals make them one of the most peaceful animals. (Source: The Tembo Group)
The Man-Eating Behemoth
In West Bengal, India, in the islands of Sundarbans, humans are becoming the common prey for both elephants and tigers.
The destructive behavior of the elephants first manifested when they started to go to farms to steal food, making humans force them to depart their property, with some individuals utilizing fireworks to harm the elephants, making the desperate creatures turn to anger. (Source: ABC News)
The aggressive behavior of elephants attributes to the destruction of their homes to construct fields for crops and the dangerous raids that continue to separate elephants from each other. The numerous threats posed to their habitat and lives consequentially make them stressed, tired, and increasingly aggressive. (Source: HuffPost)
A specific female elephant developed a violent behavior, killing 17 people. Individuals were left vulnerable, yet they still had no intention to kill the elephants that continuously attacked them and their homes due to their religious beliefs as Hindus. In the case of the rogue elephant, wildlife officials became permitted to do away with the animal.
The autopsy done on the rogue creature revealed eaten human remains. Animal experts theorized that the villagers’ intent to harm her calf induced the unusually violent behavior of the wild animal.
In another animal-related crisis, tiger attacks have increased by 30% over the previous ten years. In a different area of India, tigers had reportedly gained an appetite for humans, which became the cause of death of more than ten people in a single village. (Source: ABC News)