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Elephants can gauge threat from human voices, study finds

General March 11, 2014

Elephants are seen near a water point during their aerial census at the Tsavo West national park within the Tsavo-Mkomazi ecosystem, southeast of Kenya's capital NairobiResearchers from the University of Sussex and the Amboseli Trust for Elephants played recordings of human voices to wild elephants in Kenya and watched how they reacted. "Our results demonstrate that elephants can reliably discriminate between two different ethnic groups that differ in the level of threat they represent," the authors said in an article published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The researchers said the findings provided the first proof elephants can distinguish between human voices, and suggested that other animals seeking to avoid hunters may also have developed this skill.


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