By Leigh Kemp
We have all heard or read the stories of Elephants that mourn their dead and seen images of the interaction at a carcass. We are told that this demonstrates an Elephant's intelligence. It adds to the romance attached to the largest land mammal in the world. For those who think this is the sole preserve of the intellectual giants - it is not.
I have experienced numerous incidents where behavior of animals could be construed as mourning the dead. Images of Baboons carrying their dead babies for days are well recorded. I have watched a Zebra reacting to its deformed newborn foal and have photographed a Bulbul 'grieving' its mate lying dead after flying into a glass wall.
Watching a Lion pride where the male interacts with the cubs can provide some food for thought on the animal emotions issue. One pride that I observed at Mombo in the Okavango had ten cubs of differing ages and the interaction of the cubs with the pride male was interesting.
Two cubs in particular held my attention. The youngest cub of the group had an attitude. He would sidle up to the male, rub himself against the male's mane and then copy every move the male made.
He was not bowed when the male growled irritatingly at him. The second cub, one of the older ones, employed a completely different demeanor in his attitude to the male. This cub had a floppy ear making his acts seem more pathetic.
Whenever he was in close proximity of the male the cub would almost cower and his facial expression were very different to the younger cub. The difference in 'attitude' between the two cubs was very noticeable in their actions and facial expressions.