I saw a deeply disturbing program on the National Geographic Channel last night. Apparently for the past several years, elephants in both Asia and Africa have been making unprovoked attacks on people—killing 10 human beings a [i:035f27bf4d]week[/i:035f27bf4d]! We had long known that they were amazingly intelligent animals, with rich social lives, but it now appears that the stress of living near humans (which means in addition to competition for grazing land, elephants are killed for meat and for ivory, or just culled by park rangers themselves) the survivors are suffering from something very much like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
There was an incident (in Pakistan, I think) where a herd was wandering too close to a village’s crops. During the day, elephants are not much afraid of anything, but by going out at night, armed with flashlights and torches, the men of the village chased the herd deep into the jungle. The trouble was, in the process, they killed a very small baby elephant without meaning to. The herd came back the next night, rampaging through the village, tearing down a couple of houses and killing a child, apparently looking for that lost baby.
On top of that, orphaned elephants who grow up without an adult elephant "culture" exhibit what I can only describe as sociopathic tendancies. According to the program, they will attack and kill anything—humans, hippos, even rhinos. Remember that widely-publicized incident last year, where a circus elephant suddenly turned on two trainers and killed them? The narrator of this program speculates that, since she herself was one of these orphans (her mother being shot in a culling raid), something might have caused her to have a "flash-back".
I guess the point to all this is that some animals are turning out to be a lot more complicated than we thought they were. The next time your opponent in a debate tries to argue that "evil" is a supernatural thing by claiming "only humans kill for no reason", remember this. Sadly, here is one example of an animal who behaves just like us.