EleFact Friday: Getting a Sense of the Weather

We’ve mentioned several times now how much everyone at the sanctuary is celebrating the rainy season. The weather is changing, the seasons are shifting, and it seems that all are enjoying the transition. Obviously the elephants can tell when the rain begins, but are they able to sense the change before the precipitation comes? We’ll explore this in today’s EleFACT. 

In a 2014 study, researchers in Namibia tracked both elephants and rain over the course of several years and found the elephants were seemingly able to detect rain from as far away as 150 miles and migrate towards the incoming weather. Regular migratory patterns of elephants in the wild show that herds will move towards areas where there are better options of food and water. Historically, researchers have noticed that these patterns of migration seem to vary and be a bit odd during the rainy season. To study this, tracking devices were placed on fourteen elephants, each a member of a different herd moving around in a different area from 2002 to 2009. Rainfall was tracked and measured using weather satellite data and the two sources were compared, finding that the sudden changes in migrating direction were due to attempts by the animals to move in the direction of the falling rain.

Although it’s still a mystery as to how the elephants seem to predict or sense where the rain will come and when, researchers believe they can either feel far away thunder claps, sense pressure changes, or maybe even hear and feel the rain hitting the ground. We know that elephants can sense sounds at a very low frequency, so it’s certainly believable that they can sense things that humans cannot. For now, this is just another phenomenal and fascinating skill that elephants exhibit – maybe one that we will never fully understand. 

You can read more about this study here –,far%20away%20as%20150%20miles.

Photo of Lady enjoying the green grass that’s starting to reappear after the rains


  1. REPLY
    Pam says

    Thank you for this insightful EleFACT post. I love learning more about these incredible beings. Have a good weekend!

  2. REPLY
    Deb says

    Amazing info! Love to learn about the elephants!

  3. REPLY
    John says

    It’s an amazing world we live in – a place with elephants.

  4. REPLY
    Wim says

    Wonderful elefacts again. They’ve survived millions of years so it’s not surprising their skills look supernatural.
    Earth is lucky to have keystone species and every elephant should be protected!

  5. REPLY
    Elizabeth says

    I have been known to say, “it smells like rain”. If I smell pending rain, I would surely think an elephant can.

  6. REPLY
    Nancy Crider says

    Very interesting post. It brings to mind studies I have seen that have established that many bird species can detect approaching storms by “reading” barometric pressure. They sense storms are coming and use the information, for example, to delay the start of their migration. I would not be surprised to learn that many animals have the ability to predict weather.

  7. REPLY
    Pierrette Walraevens says

    Elephants are such facinated crea so smart and Clever speling the rain from far Yes Ellies van do that! ❤️🥰🐘🥰❤️

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