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The Elephant Alarm for Humans : African elephants have a signal for humans.

Originally shared by Lacerant Plainer

The Elephant Alarm for Humans : African elephants have a signal for humans. And it spells trouble. Studies show that elephants react quickly to human voices, becoming more vigilant and running away from the source of human sounds. But we already knew Elephants had a vocabulary. ….

Study shows how elephants react : Researchers from Oxford University carried out a series of audio experiments in which recordings of the voices of the Samburu, a local tribe from North Kenya, were played to resting elephants. The elephants quickly reacted, becoming more vigilant and running away from the sound whilst emitting a distinctive low rumble. When the team, having recorded this rumble, played it back to a group of elephants they reacted in a similar way to the sound of the Samburu voices; running away and becoming very vigilant, perhaps searching for the potentially lethal threat of human hunters.

Is it language? : Lucy explains: ‘Interestingly, the acoustic analysis done by Joseph Soltis at his Disney laboratory showed that the difference between the ”bee alarm rumble” and the ”human alarm rumble” is the same as a vowel-change in human language, which can change the meaning of words (think of ”boo” and ”bee”). Elephants use similar vowel-like changes in their rumbles to differentiate the type of threat they experience, and so give specific warnings to other elephants who can decipher the sounds.’

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  1. African elephants have few predators that threaten their survival in the wild, but known threats include humans and lions. Humans pose a variety of threats to elephants, including systematic poaching for ivory, habitat encroachment, and direct conflict over resources. Elephants recognize the level of threat that different human groups or different geographic areas pose. Fearful, defensive, and aggressive responses were observed in elephants when subjected to olfactory and visual cues of Masaai pastoralists, who are known to kill elephants, but the animals reacted less to olfactory and visual cues of Kamba agriculturalists, who pose less of a threat.


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