Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/515

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MENTAL CAPACITY OF THE ELEPHANT.

becomes necessary to accumulate evidence in his favor, the task will be a simple and easy one.

Ælian and Pliny describe the performances of African elephants in the amphitheatre at Rome, the former with considerable detail. African elephants were used by the Carthaginians in their wars with the Romans, but it is stated by the historian Armandi that, from inexperienced and deficient training, they proved less effective than the elephants of India.

A gentleman who lately arrived in this city from the west coast of Africa informed the writer that he had just seen at St. Paul de Loanda an African elephant, considerably larger and older than Jumbo, at work loading timbers into a ship, and that the animal performed his tasks with surprising intelligence and precision.

The Indian elephant's reputation for mental superiority over the African is apparently due to accidental circumstances. It is true that trained elephants of the former species outnumber the African by perhaps more than sixty to one, but it is also true that in Africa the inhabitants are mostly negro savages who have neither the resources, intelligence, nor inclination necessary to the wholesale capture and domestication of elephants. Unlike the inhabitants of Hindostan, Ceylon, Burmah, and Siam, who from time immemorial have made a business of the capture and training of wild elephants, the negroes of Africa look upon the elephant only as an ivory-producer. The splendid tusks of Africanus make his total extermination only a question of time. Long before the world will have reached the necessity of utilizing this animal as a beast of burden, the ivory hunters will have finished their war of extermination, now being waged with such alarming success, and the chances are that the zoologist of the future will describe this animal as so entirely inferior to the Indian species, both in intelligence and temper, that only a few individuals were ever successfully trained. It is the misfortune of Africanus that he belongs to the undeveloped continent. Two centuries hence, when the last of his race goes to join the mammoth and the mastodon, his captive congener in India will still be devouring his four hundred pounds of green fodder per day, in peaceful domestication, while in the jungles, the progeny of the wild herds which now roam the forests, secure from destruction under the stringent English laws, will still be protected for the perpetuation of the species.

The intelligence of an animal may be measured by taking into account, separately, its intellectual qualities, as follows:

1. Powers of independent reasoning or observation.
2. Memory.
3. Comprehension under tuition.
4. Accuracy in the execution of man's orders.

Closely allied to these are the moral qualities which go to make up an animal's temperament and disposition, about as follows: