Elephants are well-known for using their trunks in ingenious and clever ways—from scooping up drinking water to guiding their infants. This uplifting video, recently uploaded to the Caters Clips Youtube channel, shows an elephant utilising its trunk to navigate a man-made obstacle.
The elephant was trapped near a railway crossing just outside Chapramari Wildlife Sanctuary in India’s West Bengal state. The clip shows remarkable behaviour—the elephant ‘carefully’ lifts the railway barrier to make his way across a train tracks.
Eyewitnesses said the elephant made many attempts to cross the tracks but failed to do so because of the metal fence. The visibly annoyed jumbo then made his way to the railway barrier. Interestingly, after successfully passing underneath the first barrier, the elephant even took the time to make sure that the barrier wasn’t damaged, only to trample and walk over the second barrier on the other side.
Trains pose a serious danger to elephants in India. One tragic incident, that occurred last December, saw a train run over three elephants. The Indian Express reported that “the three elephants were killed when a herd of wild elephants came on the railway tracks and ‘dashed against the train engine’ of the Dibrugarh-bound express train.”
Elephants’ unusual behaviour, around trains, may have something to do with vibrations. As reported by National Geographic, studies suggest that elephants can communicate using vibrations through the ground. The ‘rumble’ generated by trains passing nearby wildlife reserves may, therefore, cause confusion.
With this in mind, and with humans continuing to expand their infrastructure into the wilderness, it’s good to see some wild animals able to adapt and utilise their intelligence to navigate their changing world.