Mythical Monday: Elephant Graveyards by Mae Clair

Remember in the Lion King when Simba and Nala discovered the elephant graveyard?

Eons ago, when the world was young and all animals roamed free, elephant graveyards existed in parts of India, Burma, Africa and Thailand. Secreted in deep valleys, sheltered by towering mountains, their location was known only by the elder of each elephant tribe. When the time came for an elephant to depart this life, the tribe gathered for a ritual farewell.

Elephant 208AAfterward, the departing elephant lumbered into the jungle alone, lured by the call of the graveyard. For days the mighty beast would travel, following a secret path through dense foliage, emerging at the base of the mountains.

Weary, but compelled by the supernatural draw of his ancestors, the elephant would climb upward into the hidden valley. A narrow entrance, just wide enough for one to shamble through, opened into an isolated dell. Within, cradled among beds of wildflowers and whispering grasses, lie the bleached bones of his ancestors. The elephant would select a spot among the skeletons, lie down and wait for death with dignity.

Throughout the centuries, men have sought these secret places, hoping to reap a fortune by harvesting the ivory tusks. But elephants are wise, and know the locations must remain hidden. Many are hunted and destroyed before they are able to make the final journey. For those fortunate enough to partake in the trek, they would rather die on the trip than lead an interloper to the resting place of their ancestors. For this reason these mythical graveyards have never been located by man. Many expert trackers and hunters have tried.

Elephant AffectionSome return after following an elephant for days, only to realize the mighty beast has led them in circles. They are dehydrated and confused, near death themselves, no match for their elusive quarry. It is said elephants mourn their dead. Perhaps that is why their ancestral graveyards remain a myth.

These devoted and familial animals are wise enough to ensure men will never discover their final resting place.

As it should be.

18 thoughts on “Mythical Monday: Elephant Graveyards by Mae Clair

    • I think there were several old movies and TV shows (Tarzan?) that included bits on elephant graveyards. There are various theories on how the myth was born . . . bones swept together by the winds, disease that took out a herd and they all died together, etc., etc., but I prefer the original version with the elephants setting aside their own secret resting place. Thanks for visiting, Daisy!


  1. I love elephants…they are smart, wise, wondrous creatures. Not too long ago there was a story in the news of some elephants that led a sick member of their herd to the ranger station, seeking help. They remained in the vicinity while the rangers restored the elephant to good health and then once released, they ambled back into the jungle… Warms the heart! Great post Mae!


  2. What a beautiful mystery. I hope they stay lost and protected. Elephant graveyards were a memorable theme in the old Tarzan books. It’s strange to read those now with all the omni POV. They still have that sense of mystery and magic though.


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