UK
01/10/2013 05:37 BST | Updated 30/11/2013 05:12 GMT

Elephant Clings To Tusk Of Dead Friend In Botswana (PICTURE)

SEE ALSO: Baby Elephant Mourns Loss Of Mother In Kenya's Masai Mara (PICTURES)

Loyal to the end, this elephant stands by her dead friend, chasing off predators and lovingly wrapping her trunk around its tusk as she keeps vigil.

The image was taken in Botswana by John Chaney as part of the 2012 National Geographic Traveller photo contest.

He recalled: "We came across this elephant whose corpse was overcome by vultures and jackals. From a distance we heard and then saw another elephant approaching at a fast pace.

elephant

I'll stand by you: The female elephant kept a vigil for her dead companion

"She was successful at chasing away the predators and then very slowly and with much empathy wrapped her trunk around the deceased elephants tusk. She stayed in this position for several hours guarding her friend."

Indeed elephants are known for their displays of bravery, compassion and grief.

Psychology Today cites examples of female elephants grieving over dead newborns and the actions of a herd after one of their party had been shot:

"Teresia and Trista became frantic and knelt down and tried to lift her up. They worked their tusks under her back and under her head. At one point they succeeded in lifting her into a sitting position but her body flopped back down. Her family tried everything to rouse her, kicking and tusking her, and Tullulah even went off and collected a trunkful of grass and tried to stuff it in her mouth."

They are also known, as the adage goes, to never forget.

"Elephants can certainly build up a memory over the years and hold on to it," Dr Karen McComb, of Sussex University, Brighton, UK, told BBC News Online in 2001.

"The matriarch plays a key role, because she has time to build up a social knowledge, the others depend on her."

Elephant Overload