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Last Updated: Friday, 18 June, 2004, 12:14 GMT 13:14 UK
Kenya elephant buries its victims
Adult African elephant
Elephants are thought to mourn their dead
An elephant has buried a mother and child after trampling them to death in northern Kenya.

Lokalo Ekitela was on her way to market when the elephant charged her and her two-year-old son, reports Kenya's Daily Nation newspaper.

Before disappearing into the bush, the elephant buried the bodies under some leaves and twigs in Laikipia District.

Elephants are known to bury their own dead under foliage and often stay with the body, apparently in mourning.

A cow whose calf has died will often stay with the dead baby for days, according to the Kenya Wildlife Service.


But it is unusual for elephants to bury humans, experts say.

"When there have been human fatalities, the carcass is left in the open," Raymond Travers of South Africa's Kruger National Park told BBC News Online.

On occasion, the hunters themselves were buried whilst taking a cat-nap
Kenya's Save the Elephants
"But according to some sources, elephants do seem to have cemeteries when it comes to their own species, we will find elephant carcasses and bones in one location away from the herd," he said.

There are old hunters tales from Kenya's Samburu people which tells of hunters seeing elephants bury dead or sleeping people under a pile of branches.

"On occasion, the hunters themselves were buried whilst taking a cat-nap," says Kenya's Save the Elephants campaign group.

Humans are most often killed by elephants when they encroach on the animals' territory, says Mr Travers.

Elephants usually act in self-defence rather than with an intent to kill.

As human populations increase elephants are losing their habitat, and the most common form of conflict between humans and elephants is crop-raiding, says Kenya's Human-Elephant Conflict Working Group.

The elephant population in Kenya is currently estimated by Kenya Wildlife Service to be 28,000.

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04 Dec 03 |  Science/Nature
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10 Mar 04 |  Staffordshire

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