Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Hannibal and his elephants

Hannibal's crossing of the Alps with his elephants is the part of the story best remembered. In fact, he lost half his elephants in the crossing and the rest died soon after arriving in Italy.

This high death rate in the crossing made me wonder what to compare it to.  I am more of a biologist than a historian so the fate of  migratory birds and butterflies in their epic seasonal journeys seemed a good comparison.

The Michigan Dept of Natural Resources says:
Migration accounts for the majority of annual adult mortality in land birds (Sillett and Holmes 2002). This biannual journey is the most energetically expensive process in a bird's life.

All this means is that death on one of the migratory trips is likely, not that any single one is especially dangerous.  I am not sure how to learn more and this is not really a biology blog ... too bad about that, by the way.

I don't think the picture below depicts a battle in Roman territory between the Romans and Carthaginians, but maybe it does depict a battle in Carthage.