Monday, April 6, 2020

E is for Elephants (Folktales of Endangered Species)

Welcome to the 2020 A to Z blogging challenge! This year my theme is Folktales of Endangered Species. I am researching cool traditional stories about rare, fascinating animals - to raise awareness of what we might lose if we don't get our collective shit together. Enjoy!

Species: Sumatran elephant (Elephas maximus sumatranus)

Status: Critically endangered

The elephant cemetery
Sumatran legend

There are various legends in Sumatra about the secret life of elephants. In one beautiful story they gather on moonlit nights in the jungle, stand on their hind legs, raise their trunks, and greet the moon with dancing in a circle.
According to one legend, there is a tree on a lonely mountain that serves as the "death tree" of the elephants. When they grow old and sick, they go up on the mountain, lie down under the tree, and die there. The tree is surrounded by white elephant bones. Story says a man once happened on the cemetery, and realized he could become rich by selling all the ivory. He lifted two tusks on his shoulders and started on the way back... but he walked and walked in circles, and could not find the path anywhere. He eventually realized that he could not leave the mountain until he put the tusks back where they belonged. The forest protected the cemetery, and the privacy of the elephants. 

Sources: Read the story here.

How can I help?

Read about conservation efforts here or here.

What else do you think elephants (or other animals) do in secret when no human is watching?


  1. That elephant just needs fur to look like a hairy Mammoth.

  2. Snap I chose elephants today too. What a lovely story.

  3. They are amazing, intelligent creatures! I'm glad that China banned trade in ivory, though I do hope the artisans who carved it will find other substitutes and that their skills can be kept alive.

  4. Interesting to read this side of story. Indian mythology too refers Elephants frequently. Infact in India, there is "Lord Ganesha"- worshipped as Elephant God- bcoz he has head of an Elephant.

  5. Oh, I do like the dancing elephants! They are amazing animals. I’ve seen a video of a bunch of elephants getting together to rescue a baby elephant stuck in the mud.

    Pity the real world ivory poachers aren’t discouraged like the man in the story!

  6. Oh I love that tale! I don't understand why humans love ivory objects. They are beautiful of course, but at what animal price?

    E is for Embroirery

  7. If they were smart (well, they are smart, my idea is fantasy!), they'd be developing a plan to rid the earth of humans! Animals (other than pampered pets) would be better off without our greed. Elephants are incredible animals, with emotions similar to ours.

  8. I love the idea of elephants dancing in the moonlight! The idea of the elephant graveyard entered European legend in the middle ages, so it obviously struck the first European travellers to hear it, too!
    Black and White (Words and Pictures)

  9. That's a wonderful story. Elephants are such special animals. It's always painful to hear about one of these beautiful, gentle giants being murdered for ivory.

  10. Beautiful tale from Sumatra. And a valuable lesson for these times.

  11. I think elephants are the cutest animals.I'm glad that man could not take the tusks!

  12. I feel a great connection to elephants, and love both those stories. It's heart-breaking to me that elephants were making a recovery and now are more endangered than ever. Why can't we seem to learn?

  13. One day we will look back, ashamed at what we've done to our animal friends.

  14. I love elephants. And I believe elephants (and other animals) dance when humans aren't looking.

  15. Love that story of the forest protecting the elephants. And I seem to remember that my granny told me about the secret place where elepahnts went to die when I was a kid.

    The Old Shelter - Living the Twenties

  16. I really wish nature protected elephants in the way it protected the bones in the story. Whenever I have seen elephants they always seem to be watching and sighing, as if they are waiting for us to grow up.
    Tasha 💖
    Virginia's Parlour - The Manor (Adult concepts - nothing explicit in posts)
    Tasha's Thinkings - Vampire Drabbles
    P.S. Apologies for being late to comment - I was running around madly yesterday trying to make sure everything was perfect for the podcast launch.

  17. I like the idea that they salute the moon :-)

  18. Love the legend of the ivory thief getting lost. If only elephants were magically protected from poachers!

    ~Tui Snider, @TuiSnider - Exploring Historic Cemeteries & Symbolism