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June 11, 2011
"Do Elephants View Humans As Direct Threats?
We are constantly learning more about how intelligent elephants are, about their incredible memory, their tight family structure, and their intricate language. In fact, just a couple days ago we learned about a study showing
how very alike humans and elephants are. Considering that this species is always surprising us with their smarts, the conflict between elephants and humans may go even deeper than habitat loss. Gay Bradshaw, an elephant behavior expert, tells Live Science
that with humans killing elephants, the aggression could be stemming from this violent interaction.
Bradshaw says elephants are simply reacting as people would when under siege. People are shooting, spearing, poisoning the big animals: "From a psychologist's perspective, that's trauma. If you look at elephants and people, that's the same thing
we see with people under siege and genocide."
Bradshaw likens the conflict between humans and elephants to colonialism, with the people taking over the elephants' indigenous culture, and with "elephants fighting to keep their culture and their society as they are pushed into smaller places and killed
It's easy to brush this theory off, saying that Bradshaw is anthropomorphizing elephants and that attacks such as what occurred in Mysore is the result of four males getting separated from the herd and lost in the scary streets of a strange city. However,
if we pause for a moment and consider the amazing things we know about elephants, the idea that wild elephants view humans as a direct threat more than ever isn't such a stretch."
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