Watching African elephants in Namibia, researchers recognized behavior patterns seen in other animals. They could tell that these elephants were listening with more than just their large ears, hearing sounds that microphones weren’t picking up!
So the elephant scientists settled in for many months of observations at Etosha National Park, compiling data about the herds living there – what the elephants ate, how many young and older elephants were in each family group, and where each group roamed – and trying to interfere with the pachyderms’ lives as little as possible.
The research team also helped farmers near the Park find ways to protect their crops from hungry elephants who don’t care about property boundaries, trying to protect the elephants even when they strayed from Etosha land.
Recording the elephants’ alarm calls and replaying them to different herd groups was an interesting experiment that made the researchers consider that perhaps sounds too low in pitch for humans to hear might be part of the elephant communication system.
Filled with intriguing photographs and details about elephant life – herd behavior, individuals’ roles in the family group, displays of affection and anger – and interesting information about the people and land of Namibia, The Elephant Scientist is a well-written story of how persisting through the ups and downs of research can lead to new findings that increase our understanding of the world around us.
Recommended by: Katy Manck, Librarian-at-Large (retired academic/corporate/school librarian), Gilmer, Texas, USA