Friday, November 7, 2014

How Thunderstorms Could Help Save African Elephants

Not quite of course but we are all on the right track. I suspect that the elephants are actually up to the task of managing herds and carnivores and that they would do so willingly as well. That naturally protects them as they become integral to herd maintenance and ecological upkeep.

I do know that we can communicate mind to mind although it is hardly developed yet. Yet that can be good enough. The tasks fit all our needs as well even if we have not identified the need to include the elephants. The task is far too onerous for the individual human caretaker and very dangerous. This makes it possible.

This may seem fantasy but I suspect that it will merely be difficult in the cearly going but otherwise plausible.

How Thunderstorms Could Help Save African Elephants

By Keith Randall, Texas A&M | October 11, 2014

Elephants can tell when a storm is approaching, even if it’s 150 miles away.

Scientists hope one day to use this ability to save them from being killed by the thousands by poachers.
Researchers analyzed data from GPS tracking devices placed on elephants in 14 different herds in the Nambia region of Africa and plotted the elephants’ movements for seven years. The region has a distinct rainy season and conditions are usually hot and dry with little precipitation.

The researchers found that elephants can “sense” thunderstorms—often hundreds of miles from their current location—and seem to predict approaching rain several days before it occurs.

The onset of the rainy season there is very abrupt and lasts just a few weeks, and the rest of the time, there is little or no rain at all,” explains Oliver Frauenfeld, assistant professor in the geography department at Texas A&M University.

With the GPS device attached to them, we learned that the elephants can detect thunderstorms at great distances. We don’t know if they can actually hear the thunder or if they are detecting other low-frequency sounds generated by the storms that humans can’t hear. But there is no doubt they know what direction the rain is.”

Getting Elephants to Safety

Frauenfeld says the information could have conservation implications for helping elephants survive the rampant poaching trade in Africa by allowing wildlife officials to better predict the location and movement of elephant herds.

A recent study by National Geographic estimates that at least 100,000 elephants were killed during a three-year period from 2010-2012, and Central Africa has lost 64 percent of the elephant population in the last decade. Some localized populations could be wiped out entirely within the next 10 years, the study says.

While the environmental trigger that causes their movements remains uncertain, rain-system generated infrasound, which can travel great distances and be detected by elephants, is a possible trigger for changes in their migration patterns,” Frauenfeld adds.

Our study suggests that the elephants are responding to a common environmental signal. The change in their movements occurs well before—from days to weeks—of any rain in the elephants’ current location.”

Coauthors from the University of Virginia, Australia’s University of New South Wales and the University of Utah contributed to the study, which appears in PLOS ONE.

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