Friday, April 22, 2016

Herds of Elephants

I was in a coworkers office this week when someone mentioned how they liked the elephants on her desk.  My coworker went on to tell us this: 

"Elephants travel in packs (groups) for protection from predators so when one of the elephants get tired, sick, or ill, they cannot lay down. Once they lay down when they are ill they cannot get up on their own quickly or the fellow elephants cannot just pick them up. Predators will sense one is down and will easily attack and kill them. Since the elephants have to keep moving then two elephants instinctively will take a place on each side and push against them to keep the sick tired elephant steady and moving. They walk together. The ill elephant has to keep moving and is able to with the help of his elephants. They do it together. And the ill elephant cannot give up and they have to keep walking."

It was a reminder that, like elephants, we are better together!
Life will throw all kinds of "stuff" at us.  We need people in our life who will keep us moving; people who will come in on both sides to keep us standing.

Sometimes, I think we will be on the outside, keeping others standing up.
But I can guarantee there will come a time when we will be the one needing the "herd" to keep us standing. 

And because once I started reading about elephants, I wanted to share some facts with you, taken from this site: 

  • Like humans, elephants are capable of forming very special bonds with their friends and family members. These relationships start at the core of the herd, i.e. mother and calf. But, they radiate out, and there have been astounding reports of lifelong bonds between elephants that have transcended time and even distance apart.
  • Elephants value their family structure, perhaps more so than many other animals. They are naturally outgoing, sociable animals and, as such, enjoy the interaction with fellow family- and herd members. Although structured, the herd is fluid enough to compensate for unforeseen circumstances.
  • As social creatures, elephants will frequently touch one another in affectionate, loving ways. Joy is most often displayed when they greet close friends or family members. Herds sometimes split and larger families are separated, depending on the matriarch’s decision. This can be due to excessive numbers or shortages of food or water.

  • When these herds meet at watering holes or breeding spots, they joyfully greet one another. This welcoming reception includes turning around in circles, holding their heads up, flapping their ears, trumpeting, screaming and even urinating and defecating. Elephants who have formed very close bonds with people are also likely to react in this way on seeing their companion after a separation.
  • The herd of females, although maintaining close bonds among themselves, also interacts well with other herds, families, and clans. An average herd of immediate family will comprise of 5 to 15 adult elephants as well as immature males and females. As the herd grows, some members split to form new herds. In this way, families are divided and allowed to expand outwards. However, these members never forget their family roots and commit much time and effort to keeping track of their relatives through vocal and non-vocal communication.
  • The elephant herd is led by the oldest and largest female cow known as the matriarch. She is usually the one who was the most closely related to the previous matriarch. The rest of the herd is made up of the matriarch's other daughters and their calves.  These ones gravitate naturally around the matriarch, making her quite simple to identify. She influences the herd more than any other group or individual.
  • In a crisis, the herd will rely on her to make the major decisions as to their course of action. If this is not the case in a particular herd, it is likely that the personality of the matriarch or the genetic make-up of that herd plays a major part. Like humans, some elephants are born to be leaders. These are not always the matriarchs and the matriarch will need to establish her dominance with such ones. Successful leaders earn respect through their wisdom, confidence and connections with other elephants.
May we be reminded that we are better together...and to be thankful for our "herd."

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