Thursday, March 27, 2014

Elephants Using Their Intelligence to Avoid Human Conflicts

The following are thoughts related to an article by Kate Shaw Yoshida in Ars Technica (link to article below):

"Elephants can distinguish between different subgroups of humans based on vocal cues, using them to assess how much danger a human poses."

Humans pose the main threat to elephants around the world.  Recently, there was a study conducted with elephants to determine if they could distinguish between different groups of people.  In Amboseli National Park, Kenya, studies have revealed that elephants can can distinguish amount different groups of people as well as different genders.  One study concluded that elephants in Amboseli could distinguish between the not too threatening Kamba tribe and the more conflict-ridden Masai.  The Kamba are an agricultural group that are of little threat to elephants in the area, however there are numerous conflicts with the Masai over water and land. It had previously been known that elephants could distinguish between these two groups based on their clothing and scent.  This most recently study revealed that they can also distinguish Kamba men from Masai men based on auditory cues.  This is yet another indication of elephant's highly developed cognitive abilities.

In addition to distinguishing between the two groups of men, the study also suggested that elephants react more strongly to Masai males than to females.  It is believed that they understand that the males carry the spears and provide a much great threat than the females.

Elephants are incredible, intelligent, family-oriented beings.  At the rate that they are being poached in Africa (estimated at 96 elephants per day) and killed in Asia due to human conflicts over food and land, our future generations may grow up in a world where the letter "e" represents the word "extinct" instead of elephant.

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