Recording elephants communicating with each other

"Communication is crucial for elephants that live in complex multi-tiered social systems. Apart from their iconic trumpets uttered through the trunk, Asian elephants also produce species-specific squeaks by buzzing their lips. This demonstrates once again the elephant's flexibility in sound production." (Source: Science Daily, 23 July 2021)

The more we learn about elephants, the more they continue to amaze us. And the International Elephant Project is excited to announce that we’re taking part in a two-year research project (ELOC Project) to record the vocalisations of wild Sumatran elephants.

You may not know this, but elephants don’t just make trumpeting sounds with their trunks. They also communicate in low frequency rumbles, which cannot be heard by humans. However, the recording devices that have been purchased as part of this project can detect these low sounds. 

Indonesian students from Gadjah Mada University are undertaking these studies to help us learn more about Critically Endangered Sumatran elephants, and importantly to help with monitoring of elephants in the future. 

At the start of the project, students collected sound recordings of some captive elephants and interestingly, there is a huge difference in how often these elephants vocalised. Some elephants were mostly quiet while some were very vocal. Just like some humans!

Although this is all very interesting, the main purpose of the ELOC project is to develop and test technology that will help anti-poaching patrols and reduce human-elephant conflict. When rangers can more easily identify where elephants are, they can help reduce conflict with farmers and villagers more quickly.

The project is being managed by our IEP Field Manager, Dr Alex Moßbrucker, within the  Way Kambas National Park and Gunung Leuser National Park. Through Alex, we’ve also provided support to Asanka, our partner in Sri Lanka, to secure funds for the same project.

Stay tuned for more updates soon!

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