Roar Africa

Exploring Africa Since 1688

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Older elephants are wiser and....

It may seem obvious, but now it is now documented that elephants pay particular attention to their elders especially when they hear the sound of an approaching lion.
Apparently elephant herds with older matriarchs react faster to the sound of predators than those with younger matriarchs. They also distinguish between male and female lions' roars. These findings of Karen McComb and Graeme Shannon from the University of Sussex, UK are reported in the Royal Society journal Proceedings B.
This fact reinforces the importance of the family group. It's a complex social structure that can be severely damaged by outside interference like hunting. One has to assume that removing the matriarch would inhibit the learning process of the herd and endanger their safety. I find this particularly poignant as we are discussing both elephants and lions here. As film makers Dereck and Beverly Joubert ("The Last Lions") have pointed out, hunting the alpha male lion can case the death of over 20 lions. The social structure of the pride is destroyed and an incoming male will kill cubs of the previous male.
This story of the elephants is covered on BBC Earth News here along with a video of the elephants reacting to recorded lions. At ROAR AFRICA we have witnessed elephants bunching protectively around their youngsters in reaction to our own presence. Here is a video of exactly that occurring last year: Elephant Encounter, Linyati, Botswana

For more on the amazing documentary film "The Last Lions" and the trailer, click here.

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