WTF Fun Fact 13072 – Elephants Swim

Despite their size and weight, elephants swim with great skill. They can cross rivers, swim underwater, and even float when they get tired.

How do elephants swim?

The elephant’s trunk is one of its best swimming tools. It acts as a snorkel when they go underwater, helping them breathe.

Not all elephants get the chance to swim unless they live in swampy areas or near deep enough rivers. But they’re built to do it. Even their feet have webbing that helps them glide through the water. Their ears help them keep water out of their ear canals, and their tails can even act as rudders.

Learning to swim

Elephants aren’t born knowing how to swim. They typically learn how to use their trunk as a snorkel at a few months old. That’s when their mother brings them to a nearby body of water and watches over them while they learn.

Despite looking like they’d immediately sink to the bottom of the water, elephants are also naturally buoyant. That makes it very difficult for them to drown (unless they get caught up in rapids).

According to the Elephant Guide website (cited below):

“Elephants typically swim using somewhat of a breaststroke. For us humans, this will be comparable to a “doggy swim” type of stroke rather than a clean human breaststroke.
The elephants’ four legs are used to propel them through the water. Their legs are so powerful that they can swim continuously for as long as six hours! An elephant’s head and torso are generally kept just below the surface of the water as it paddles its massive limbs back and forth on a typical swim.”

Swimming for distance

The longest recorded elephant swim was 22 miles and 6 meters deep!

But typically they go for short swims to cool off. Distance swimming only occurs when they need to cross a body of water.  WTF fun facts

Source: “Can Elephants swim? They even swim underwater!” — Elephant Guide

WTF Fun Fact 12931 – Killed by elephants in India

If you live in certain parts of India and encroach on the increasingly small amount of land where wildlife still rules, you could be one of the 100+ unlucky people to be killed by an elephant each year. In fact, a woman in India was killed by an elephant in January 2022 and witnesses say it returned to her funeral and trampled her corpse.

Typically, elephants are empathetic creatures, but as their land is increasingly encroached upon, they can be dangerous.

Killed by an elephant in India

Elephants typically keep to themselves. But as building and other types of habitat destruction increase, some small farmers are forced farther into elephant territory to find land to grow food. There, they can have their crops trampled or be killed by a single elephant or group of elephants that feel threatened.

According to the World Wildlife Fund (cited below), over 100 people are killed by elephants each year in India “over 200 people have been killed in Kenya over the last 7 years.”

The WWF notes that “Elephants are often killed in retaliation. Wildlife authorities in Kenya shoot between 50 and 120 problem elephants each year and dozens of elephants are poisoned each year in oil palm plantations in Indonesia.”

Rare incidents involving elephants

Perhaps one of the most popular (albeit unconfirmed by official sources) incidents involving an elephant in India happened in January of 2022.

According to Mashable:

“On June 10, 2022, the woman named Maya Murmu, who hailed from Raipal village in the district of Odisha Mayurbhanj, was brutally attacked by an elephant in a nearby forest while collecting water.

According to news reports, she was rushed to the hospital where she was pronounced dead very quickly after.

After bringing her body home, her family proceeded to make the necessary arrangements for her funeral, but it was all for nought as on the day of her funeral, the very same elephant returned to the village in an extremely foul mood.”

In Odisha, elephant attacks are slightly more common due to their proximity to the creatures. But this is very atypical behavior. While some people insist the woman was assisting poachers in threatening baby elephants or throwing stones at the creatures, there’s no legitimate evidence of that.

However, there are multiple reports that “the elephant then proceeded to attack the funeral and targeted Maya’s corpse, trampling it furiously before letting out a roar that signalled other elephants from its herd to wreck the rest of the village. The same elephant also somehow managed to identify Maya’s home, and went on smash it, killing the goats living there.

By the end, nearly the entire village had been wrecked, and many of the inhabitants had lost their homes (although thankfully, no one else was hurt).”

Indian newspapers have reported it, but local authorities have yet to directly confirm the specifics.

It’s hard to know what to believe in these cases, but it’s clear that elephants are capable of getting pretty angry under certain circumstances.  WTF fun facts

Source: “Battles over ever decreasing land” — WWF