By Ben Mitchell
THE reputation of elephants for never forgetting was given a chilling new meaning yesterday by scientists who believe they may also be seeking their revenge - against humans.
New Scientist magazine reports that elephants have shown signs of attacking human settlements as a form of vengeance for past grievances.
Humans and elephants have long endured a difficult relationship with each species encroaching on the other’s territory.
But the battle for land by the increasing populations of humans and elephants in the developing world could be becoming personal.
The fears about vengeful elephants come after an increasing number of reports in Africa of herds of elephants trampling through villages, apparently without cause or motivation.
Scientists suspect that elephants have passed down from mother to calf a sense of distrust and spite towards humans, dating back to the age of poaching in the 1970s and 1980s.
This has created a generation of "teenage delinquent" elephants taking out their grievances on humans.
Joyce Poole, research director at Amboseli Elephant Research Project in Kenya, said: "They are certainly intelligent enough and have good enough memories to take revenge. Wildlife managers may feel that it is easier to just shoot ‘problem’ elephants. So an elephant is shot without realising the possible consequences on the remaining family members and the possibility of stimulating a cycle of violence."