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Elephants not only have good memory but also know where they are in danger

In Botswana, a third of the African elephant population lives today. National parks and reserves of this country have become one of the last preserve where their numbers are growing. Not only because the boars are born here, but mainly because they are pulling the elephants from other risky countries. Elephants not only have good memory but are able to tell where and from whom they were in danger. He writes about Quartz Africa.

People from Save the Elephants, founded in 1993 by Ian Douglas-Hamilton, have been monitoring the situation in Botswana for years. That's why we know the elephants are doing well here. Today, over 130,000 live there, with thirty thousand added to them since 1995. Botswana and its national parks (for example, Chobe) are outstripping the Cello-African trend. On the contrary, there is a clear decrease in the population by 30%. In the long run, however, such good news sparks are losing. Elephants in Africa lived in the early 20th century in excess of two million, in the 1970s "still" a million. The fact that only a third of the Cello-African elephant population survives in Botswana is rather terrifying. And elephants are probably well aware of it.

The first elephant in Somalia after twenty years

According to Mark Hiley of the National Park Rescue nonprofit, one thing is interesting about the existence of the elephant enclave in Botswana. "The fact that the elephants from the neighboring states are moving themselves systematically to Botswana. They use their proven migration paths to get here. And we think it's no coincidence. " Elephants remember where they are (not) threatened. And they share this information for generations. This is partly confirmed by the zoologists from the Twente University of the Netherlands who monitor the elephants on their voyages through the open country. In 2016, they saw an unusual case of a young elephant male who, from relative safety in Kenya, set off on an adventurous three-week trip to Somalia.

"He stayed there for only one day before he came back, but he was the first living elephant in Somalia after twenty aviators,"
says Douglas-Hamilton. "The reason for his trip was probably the quest for a mating." In an elephant expedition, 209 kilometers long, it was remarkable that the elephant moved through the countryside only in the dark. "This is extremely extreme, and for the elephants extremely unusual form of movement. But a fairly effective method of avoiding hunters and poachers. " Based on this observation, the team from Twente, along with local conservation officials, decided to investigate how the" coming from abroad "to the Botswana National Parks are getting, and how they give people attention . They have found that they are using new, elephant models, which are still largely unpopulated, sophisticated survival methods.

Man is a threat

Movement in darkness or darkness was just one of them. Migrating elephants also use new forms of silent verbal communication, atypical warning gestures and movements. And also acoustic signals based on infrasound or odor tags that enable them to alert you to the imminent danger. Elephants are learning to recognize risky situations on the basis of previous drastic experiences. Elephant females then pass on this experience to their offspring. Joyce Poole, director of ElephantVoices' nonprofit research, for example, highlights the "elephant memory" of individuals from the Mozambican Gorongosa National Park. "In the course of the civil war, 90% of the elephants were exterminated, only about 4000 survived. And twenty-five years from this event, people's elephants are still scared. "

Meetings of people with elephants in Gorongos are taking place today rather than before the war. "When a group of elephants sees or senses people, the old female evaluates the potential dangers and gives a command to attack or a fallout." There is a similar experience among zoologists (and elephants) from Kenya's Amboseli National Park. "They learned to distinguish between human odors and even different languages. They are able to recognize if they are nearing a potentially dangerous Spearman Massage or a member of some other, less dangerous human tribe. " According to Douglas-Hamilton, this only illustrates the complexity of elephant communication and their high intelligence.

Elephants who are exposed to life threats for a long time (for example, during repeated poachers' raids) decide to replace their place of residence as a safer destination. "They know where to go," says Douglas-Hamilton. "They migrate to areas like Botswana where they feel safe. Even after the threat disappears, they are able to stay in a quiet preserve for two generations before they get back on the migratory routes again carefully. "

Joyce Poole adds that we can not understand the elephants even thanks to advanced technology. "But given the fact that we have a traditional threat to them for millennia, I believe that there will be a specific signal in their voices that identifies the presence of man. And whether it is a danger or not. "

Author: Radomír Dohnal

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