The ivory trade is not just pushing towards extinction an animal that was already around, in his actual form, over 5 million years ago, when human kind was still in its infancy with hominids very close to the common ancestor of humans and chimpanzees.
It’s also wiping out a creature with a truly unique mind and set of human-like behaviors that include self-awareness, altruism, cooperation, Machiavellian intelligence, insight, grief, allomothering (babysitting), learning, Theory of Mind and empathy.
The Theory of Mind, or the ability to attribute mental states to others, and empathy, or the ability to infer emotional experiences, are particularly important processes in social cognition.
They are at the base of the human ability to attribute mental states to oneself and others and to understand that others have beliefs, desires and intentions different from one’s own, an ability that has long been considered what makes us different from other species.
Scientists now believe elephants are in league with chimpanzees and dolphins as being among the world’s most cognitively advanced animals and recent scientific studies suggest that we should err on the side of caution and consider elephants with higher ethical standards, with important ethical implications also for elephants in captivity.
Because of ivory we are literally killing ‘Intelligence’ and this clearly makes us less intelligent.
Photo by Andrea Crosta
Learn more on elephant’s intelligence and emotions:
BBC – The Truth Behind Elephant Brainpower: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8518831.stm
National Geographic – Elephant Mourning: www.youtube.com/watch?v=TjtrdpSwEUY&feature=player_embedded
The Independent – When Elephants Get Emotional: www.independent.co.uk/news/science/when-an-elephant-gets-emotional-1321235.html
Animal Intelligence – An Elephant’s Best Friend: www.animalintelligence.org/2010/09/01/an-elephants-best-friend/
ElephantVoices – Elephants Are Intelligent: www.elephantvoices.org/elephant-basics/elephants-are-intelligent.html