Category Archives: Elephant Video

Elephants and people need role models

Hi all,

One of our readers, Amy Mayers, sent this to us: A Public Service Announcement put out by the US Government that uses lessons from elephant behavior (a paper on which I was an author from 2000) to argue for bettering fathering. Well, the elephants in the clip are from Amboseli (some of my all time favorites, like Dionysus), not from South Africa, and while the behavior it describes is not actually what we see in the video, and it mostly gets the sexes of the elephants wrong, the message is a good one and true for both elephants and people. The youth of both species require good adult role models in their lives. Growing up without them spells trouble.

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A female elephant in Minneriya, Sri Lanka, kicks our car

Hi all,

We apologise for the silence. It has been a very busy time for us. There has been so much to follow up on with the improvements we are planning on our website and I have been working on a couple of papers on elephant cognitive behavior among other tasks.

Before moving on to another topic I had wanted to come back to a comment that I made in one of our recent postings about there being subtle and not so subtle differences in Asian and African elephant behavior. I want to mention one of the “not so subtle” differences in this posting. Both species display extraordinary teamwork, especially when defending their families, but the specific tactics may be different.

I have been charged by African elephants many times and I have even had my car tusked by an African elephant or two. I have had elephants explore my car with their feet (once even stepping on the front bumper so that the car was shaking) but I have never had an African elephant kick the car with its front feet!

When Petter and I were taken around Sri Lanka by Lalith Seneviratne we had the good fortune to visit Minneriya N.P., which was a highlight from many perspectives. While we were there we met a very kali (fierce in Kiswahili) adult female who just wanted to get rid of everyone.

To be honest, the other elephants she was with didn’t pay her too much attention, but the tourists did. She had cars fleeing in all directions! We weren’t so easily frightened by her, though. So she threatened us repeatedly, rumbling, flapping her ears vigourously, and thumping the ground with her trunk. And finally she proceeded to kick Lalith’s car a couple of times – breaking the side light. Only then did the other adult female in her group come to join her. I had the feeling at the time that she was unusually disturbed and wondered what experiences with people had led her to behave in this way.

In the MP3 file you can hear her kicking the car and Lalith trying to get her to back off against a background of excited squeaking, rumbling and screaming sounds and her continual ear flapping.

Ester of Sweetwaters, whom Paula will remember, had tusks……

Download link

We have had some problems with our media files since WD had a serious hick-up some time ago – hopefully the link above works for you. And because of changes on WD our previous sound-links are not working. We will look into this as soon as possible.

Contact call video clip

Hi All

While preparing for our next field trip to Amboseli I am also trying to check out the different options on wildlifedirect. In the field office activities are more of a challenge, and our internet-connection not fiber-optic superspeed-like, so it makes sense to get to know wildlifedirect before we’re in the bush. I have uploaded a video sample from our collection of elephant vocalizations to YouTube – you can read more about our future vocalization database on ElephantVoices here.
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The clip shows what we call a Contact Call. Elephants use Contact Calls to keep in audible contact with one another sometimes over long distances. In a sense an interchange of contact calls queries, “I am here, where are you?” and in answer, “I am over here”. Contact calls typically contain a series of at least three calls: The querying rumble by the initial caller, an answer by a second individual and then a confirmation by the initial caller that the answer has been received. Other nearby family members may also add their voice to the second or third phase of the series. Read more about Contact Calls here.

Cheers, Petter