Photo by giaplume
True story. Several years ago in one of Africa's wildlife preserve, park rangers began discovering a puzzling phenomenon—Rhinos started showing up dead all over the park. The kicker is that the once healthy Rhinos didn’t die of disease, they were killed. The reason this was puzzling was because there was only one animal that could kill a Rhino like that—an Elephant. But it was rare to see Rhinos and elephants tangle, unless it was over water or territory. So why were all the Rhinos being picked off one by one?
The answer came in yet another discovery. A group of adolescent Elephants was found roaming the preserve looking for a fight. They found their fight in the form of any hapless Rhino they encountered. So this explained the deaths but not the behavior.
Why were they killing them?
The investigators had to dig a little deeper for the answer. When they did—they uncovered that each of the adolescents had one thing in common. The older males in their families were killed by poachers years ago and the youngsters had grown up without them. In other words—they didn’t realize that killing Rhinos for sport wasn’t appropriate. In essence—that’s what they were doing.
Talk about creative problem solving. Guess what the park officials did next? They imported a couple of mature Elephant bulls into the area. The adolescents were quickly “put in their place” by the bulls—but even more interesting was that the killing ceased and the adolescents began to reflect the behavior of the mature bulls. They were learning how to “behave”.
I’ve always thought this was a compelling story for this sole reason. If animals need role models—how much more so do we?