Elephant Attacks Newborn Calf In Disturbing Footage [Watch]
(Photo : Ken Bohn/San Diego Zoo/Getty Images)
A disturbing footage of a baby elephant being thrown around by a young adult male elephant was captured by tourists at the Addo Elephant National Park in South Africa. The incident was recorded at the park by Jenni Smithies, a nature guide, and Lloyd Cortez, a photographer, as they rode past a watering hole.
According to elephant biologist, conservationist and founder of Elephant Voices Joyce Poole, it seems that the young bull elephant may have been acting out of confusion. The scent of the baby's mother, whom he mistakenly believed to be receptive to mating, may have thrown him off.
The footage, which was shot through car windows, showed the calf struggling to stand as it was knocked over forcefully by a young male elephant that is in pursuit of a sexual partner. After a few throws, another female elephant tried protecting the calf.
Poole stated that this is the worst case of aggressive behavior she has ever seen. National Geographic noted that although she has seen this kind of behavior from young elephant males in the past, it is very rare that they become violent to such an extent. The young bull's aggression, however, may have been caused by his inability to distinguish female reproductive hormones. He may have confused the scent of a new mother to that of a female receptive to mating.
Poole explained that when female elephants are able to become pregnant, they give off a scent that signals their reproductive states. Males that are attempting to mate usually travel to various families for females giving off the scent. The male in question, who is in his 20s, is at an age that is not yet able to discriminate between the scents of a new mother and of a receptive female.
Because of the calf's size, it is likely that it smelled like its mother, which confused and frustrated the bull. Elephants usually reach sexual maturity at 17 but do not reach their sexual prime until they are about 40 or 50 years of age. This means the bull is only just beginning to develop important mating skills that older elephants have already honed.