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Exciting New Elephant Behavioral Research

EDGE of AFRICA has been conducting behavioral research at the Elephant Sanctuary in the Crags, South Africa since 2011. With the assistance of our conservation volunteers we have investigated tactile interactions between individual elephants with the aim of determining the social bonds within this semi-captive herd of unrelated elephants.

In August 2013 we hosted 2 research students from Germany who are completing an internship with Angela Stoeger-Howarth from the Department of Cognitive Biology at the University of Vienna. Using equipment sponsored by the University of Vienna and with the assistance of students Johanna Eckert and Anissa Dudde we have kicked off exciting new research into the acoustic communication of these elephants where vocalizations between elephants are recorded and analyzed using phonetic software.

Elephants are intelligent, social animals, living in complex groups. Living in a social group often requires a good communication system. Elephants are known to communicate in different and complex ways which allow them to share a lot of information.

As many elephants live close to humans it is interesting to see how their communication can change with the presence of humans; therefore one of the aims of this new research will be to investigate how the elephants’ acoustic communication is affected by being in close proximity to humans, by comparing times when the elephants are participating in guest interaction programs with times when they are not.

Thanks to the assistance of Johanna and Anissa and our collaboration with Angela Stoeger-Howarth we have been provided with a fantastic opportunity to further develop our Elephant Research Project as well as contributing to Angela’s ongoing Elephant Communication Project.

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