Why Do Elephants Obey Humans? (With Other Facts!)

Elephants are the largest animal on the land, and they look scary. They have robust bodies that can crush a car when they step into it. However, even though they are bigger than any land predators, elephants are still one of the animals that have the softest heart. Elephants can be attached and obey humans. Why do they obey humans despite their large size? 

Why do elephants obey humans? When other animals are trained and tamed, they will obey humans. Same with the elephants. Elephants obey humans not because they want to, but because they’ve been used to rewards. In simple words, elephants obey humans because humans trained them to do so.

However, there are other things you can learn from our topic. We are going to tell you the truth if elephants are naturally friendly to humans or not. Also, we are going to answer some questions related to our subject. This topic will cover all about the relationship between elephants and humans. If you are ready, let’s hit it! 

The Other Reasons Why Elephants Obey Humans

Like I have said above, elephants obey humans not because they want to. But because they were trained to do so. Humans will train the animals to obey them to get the benefits they want. They will train the animals harshly or softly.

Some humans train elephants in a well-mannered way. They feed the elephants, but they don’t keep them in a cage. Instead, they allow elephants to roam around. They don’t paddle the elephant to follow them. Instead, they reward the elephants after the elephant followed what they asked. 

By using this kind of training, it shows elephants that they can trust humans. They will enjoy obeying what humans asked them to do! Also, elephants will love and build a strong relationship with their owner if their owner trains them in a nice, well-mannered way. 

However, there is also a cruel way. The harsh way of training an elephant is like training a slave. Some people execute this kind of training so that the elephants will be scared and obey them. They smash and torture the elephant until the elephant builds a fear. When the elephant has fear already, it will start obeying humans. 

In simple words, elephants will obey humans whether because of the reward or punishment they receive.

Humans are very dangerous for elephants. Yes, you read that right. Humans are dangerous for elephants. Humans use elephants to work as a slave. What they usually do is they get the baby elephant from the wild and kill their mothers. The baby elephant they got will be trained, whether harshly or softly. 

However, even though the baby elephant will be trained softly, I still don’t agree with it. Taking a baby animal from the wild and keeping it as a pet is illegal. Wildlife species are protected by state laws, federal laws, or both.

Keeping a wild animal in captivity requires at least one special permit. However, I still don’t agree, even though it is possible to keep an animal from the wild. Animals deserve better, and leaving them alone in the wild is what’s best for them!

Are Elephants Friendly To Humans?

Yes! Elephants are as friendly as humans, which means they are incredibly friendly. They are friends not just with humans but with other species too.

However, elephants can also be hostile and violent. Elephants are smart mammals. They know what is happening around them. In fact, they can remember every incident that happened to them. 

The personality of an elephant depends on its genes and its experiences in life. If they had a bad experience with humans before, they most likely stay away from humans. 

Wild elephants that are not used to human interaction will not be affectionate towards humans. But if an elephant is used to human interaction, they can build a strong relationship with their human.

Elephants are friendly towards their fellow species, and they will still be even though they are not friendly to humans. However, their friendliness depends on their age, sex, and family affiliation like us humans.

Why Do Elephants Charge Humans?

Elephants charge humans as their way of protecting themselves, their homes, and their loved ones. 

Most of the charges elephants do are just mock charges to scare the humans but not harm the humans. They do this if the humans threaten them or go inside their territory. 

Wild elephants are the ones that will do this. Domesticated elephants will never do this unless humans hurt or threaten their lives. Even though elephants love humans, of course, they also need to protect their lives.

Do Elephants Understand Humans?

Asian elephants certainly can recognize the gestures of humans and respond appropriately to them. This is why these elephants can be trained and tamed to perform on the stage. However, this is a horrific experience for elephants and something I don’t recommend to you. 

There is also one study made that shows that African elephants can understand humans, and they are listening to us. The elephants can tell the gender or age of a certain human.

They can also tell if a human is a threat based on the human’s actions and clothes. The research illustrates how elephants protect themselves from humans. 

I am very sure that all elephants around the world can understand humans. Why? Because they can recognize aggressive and threatening behavior in humans. Also, as I have said above, elephants can form a strong relationship with their humans. So this means that elephants can understand if a human loves them. 

Elephants are intelligent animals, and they have the largest brains of any land animal. Elephants have astounding memories, which is why they can remember what happened during their childhood.

If humans killed their parents while they were young, they will remember that and will most likely be afraid of humans for their whole lives. 

How Do Elephants Show Affection?

Elephants love to live in a group. They can build strong relationships with their fellow elephants from the same herd. Elephants have many ways to show affection and love for one another. What are those ways? 

The first way elephants show affection is by using their trunks. Elephants use their trunks to show love and affection to their fellow elephants. They will stroke or caress each others’ heads and backs with the use of their trunks to comfort their fellow elephants. The baby elephants place their trunks in their mothers’ mouths for reassurance. 

The second way elephants show affection is by the use of their vocals. Elephants produce different kinds of sounds. Each sound has a different purpose why they use it. They use their vocalizations to express friendliness, love, sadness, and affection. 

Elephants will make a low and soft noise, indicating satisfaction in their company with each other. The other sound you hear from the elephants, the famous one, is their trumpet-like sound.

Elephants will blow their trumpets as a sign of excitement or alarm. They will also blow their horns to express how happy they are with the birth of their newborn baby. 

Elephants are like humans. They can show affection to each other with the use of vocalizations or body language. Elephants are smart animals that have emotions. Yes! Elephants can also feel.

They can feel sadness, anxiousness, and happiness. That is why we humans need to be very careful in every action we do to the elephants. 

Can Elephants Bond With Humans?

Yes! Elephants are capable of forming a strong relationship with their loved ones. Scientists have proven that these giant walking mammals are tightly bonded within their family unit. If humans show love to the elephants, the elephants can love them back and form a strong bond with them. 

Do Elephants Feel Love?

Yes! Elephants can feel love. Like I have said above, elephants can express their affection, love, and care with their fellow elephants. If they can express their love to others, they can also feel the love from their fellow elephants. Because you can’t express love if you don’t know the feeling of being loved. 

Elephants can also feel the love from humans. They know if a human loves and cares for them, and they can recognize if humans are abusing them too. Scientists have found that elephants are capable of complex thought and deep feeling. 

How Smart Are Elephants?

Elephants are incredibly smart creatures. They are the land animals that have the largest brain, and three times as many neurons as humans. Elephants can identify languages, use tools, understand human body language, show empathy and affection, and mimic human voices. 

Researchers have discovered that African elephants can identify what is the gender and age of a certain human. How? By the sound of the humans’ voice. When they hear that the sound of the human is like a threat, they switch into defensive mode. 

The study shows that elephants can remember and identify the sounds of their abusers. When the elephants hear the sound of their abusers, they most likely run away or will go into defensive mode. Also, the study shows that elephants are not afraid of women and children, and they are more scared of men.

The researchers played the voice of a woman and children in front of the elephants. The elephants did not run away nor switch into defensive mode. But when they play a man’s voice, the elephants start to run and switch into defensive mode.  

Elephants have emotions too. They can show empathy, affection, and love to their fellow elephants using their vocals and body language. Elephants also mourn like humans when their loved ones die. Check the video below about how elephants mourn for their dead loved ones. 


The facts above alone proves how smart these giant creatures are!

Final Words

Elephants are loving and affectionate animals. They do not deserve to be abused by humans! Even though they can be trained softly, I still don’t agree with it.

Elephants deserve better, and leaving them alone in the wild with their herd is best for them! Let’s work together to make this world safer for elephants. They might get extinct when we do nothing.  

Jake Willhoite
Jake runs AnimalDome.com and has had cats and dogs his entire life. As a kid his family adopted several dogs from the local shelter which set him down the path of animal rescue.
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