Happy EleFACT Friday. We’ve shared with you about how our elephants react to the cold, but what about their behaviors during the stormy season?
Research has shown that elephants can “hear” clouds approaching and sense when storms are coming. As we know, their large ears are able to interpret sounds that our ears can’t. Elephant ear canals allow them to pick up on infrasound waves, which are much longer wavelengths than what the average human ear can hear. If people could hear these noises, it would sound to us like nothing more than an unremarkable hiss or rumble. But to elephants, these sounds enable them to be sensitive to the movement of clouds. This information helps them decide where to move on the brink of an incoming storm.
A study done in 2015 observed GPS data on elephants in 14 different herds in Namibia for seven years, then compared those data to the start of the area’s rains. In several instances, the GPS data showed elephants in different, but nearby, places moving at the same time, suggesting that each herd was responding and moving in the direction of the infrasound waves from the storm.
Although more research is needed, it’s certainly another example of the extraordinary capabilities that elephants possess to take care of themselves and their herds.
Photo of Maia
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Nishant Bhajaria saysJuly 30, 2021 at 2:55 pm
“each herd was responding and moving in the direction of the infrasound waves from the storm.” Is this because they wanted to get soaked? I would think they’d move away from the waves to stay dry and safe from the storm?
Sara saysJuly 30, 2021 at 3:00 pm
For elephants in the wild, storms = water. It helps them determine where a good water source would be.
Katie Howard saysJuly 30, 2021 at 3:40 pm
So incredibly and intuitively smart. I have long believed that elephants are more highly evolved than humans in many ways. Matriarchal, peaceful herds, only aggressive in response to threats; they carry their “tool set” (trunks, legs, head and even tail) with them ALL the time. They never lose sight of what they value – protecting calves and the herd. They teach their young, they maintain discipline, they remember, they adapt and they grieve. In other words, using ONLY what they were born with, they survive, in peace, in absolute harmony with their natural environments.
Whereas we, with our opposable thumbs, have created tools and processes that destroy our environment and, where we collect in huge #s in cities, find ever more creative and predatory to kill one another and destroy our environment. They have no greed.
Don’t get me wrong – I love being human and have hope that the inventive, intelligent, creative, dedicated and sensible people who are doing so much to try to fix the world, will prevail. It’s just hard, some days, to keep the faith.
Thank God for elephants!
Sara saysJuly 30, 2021 at 5:18 pm
It’s true. Sometimes human beings’ definition of adaptation and growth isn’t really healthy at all. And has included practices that directly harm elephants and so many other animals. Their approach is based on logic, intuition, and lots of other things we probably don’t know about.
SHEILA saysJuly 30, 2021 at 4:38 pm
ELEPHANTS R SO INTELLIGENT THEY HAVE THEIR OWN WEATHER RADAR. SYSTEM‼️ AMAZINGLY IM SURE THE “DESERT ELEPHANTS IN NAMIBIA” ARE CERTAINLY LOOKING FOR THE RAIN FROM THE CLOUDS AS. WATER IS NOT THAT ABUNDANT THERE! AS FOR BRAZIL WELL I THINK THE 🐘🐘🐘🐘🐘LADIES R REAL WELL EQUIPPED WITH WATER FOR DRINKING AND BATHING! THAT MAY BE A GOOD THING TO WATCH IF THEY HEAD TOWARD 🌨🌩STORM CLOUDS
Bertica Valdes Suarez saysJuly 30, 2021 at 5:13 pm
Thank you for the ELEfact.
The picture … is it of Lady?? : ). Thank you!
Sara saysJuly 31, 2021 at 1:16 am
I re-examined and it’s Maia after all!
Sunny saysJuly 30, 2021 at 10:16 pm
I thought it was Maia in the photo. Perhaps the herds that left Xishuangbanna heard something…
Sara saysJuly 31, 2021 at 1:16 am
I re-examined and you’re correct! Thank you.
Ann-Marie Jacobs-Brown saysJuly 31, 2021 at 5:55 am
I was with a herd of elephants when a terrifying electrical storm came out of nowhere. It was so bad that it blew up a huge transformer in the closest village shutting down power in the entire nearest city . Everybody ran for cover but the eles were completely unphased. I watched them from a covered balcony and was fascinated at how they just stood, peaceful as ever, amongst black clouds, lightning flashes and thunder so loud the rest of us were ducking and holding our heads even though we were protected from the rain, at least. I thought elephants would be like dogs and run for cover, shaking, but not these ones. I was extremely impressed 🙂 🙂
John saysJuly 31, 2021 at 1:32 pm
Have I told you guys lately how much I love you?
Sara saysJuly 31, 2021 at 2:37 pm
So kind of you!
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EleFact Friday: Stormy Weather