NPR/NGS Radio Expeditions
23 Feb 2002
Central African Republic
- Dzanga-Sangha Reserve; Elephant bai; Mirador observation platform
- 2.954323 16.364085
- SONY TCD-D8
Spaced Omni Stereo; DPA 4060
Show: CAR Elephants
Log of DAT #: 8A
Engineer: Bill McQuay
Date: February 23, 2002
KP = Katy Payne
AT = Andrea Turkalo
MT = Mya Thompson
MG = Melissa Groo
ES = Eric Spaulding
AC = Alex Chadwick
Bill = Bill McQuay
At the Bai with Katy and Andrea and Alex
some noises¿rustling, something being dropped, a bag being unzipped¿and whispering.
Okay, this is the Zeppelin spaced omnis. Okay, and this is Saturday, Feb. 23. We're in the mirador. It's 2:01pm.
whispering. Group getting organized, setting up, figuring out where to sit, etc.
(Katy Payne) Who've we got that's interesting here, Andrea?
Who's interesting¿Well, Matilda 2 is out there. He's been orphaned.
Oh, he has?
FX fly buzzing around
He's the black one out there?
No, he's the little guy in the back, he's got a red spot on his head. And his tusks are asymmetrical. His mother disappeared and his sister disappeared. But sometimes he hangs around with one of his siblings, a juvenile female. He's related to Penelope.
Oh he is?
He's in that group yeah.
Now you say with a red spot on his head?
Yeah, he's to the left of Miles and CB.
Right. And Backwards seems to have her mouth permanently open.
Yeah, she's always next to big males in holes. She'll even stand next to males and wait, to see if she can get anything from him. There's a couple of females like that.
Aida 2 is to the left of Miles. And she has that habit of hanging around big males.
Which one is Miles?
Miles is the big male in the central hole. He's facing right. He's been around like for the past month and a half. Since Katy's been here he's been around.
He's one of the ones that mated with the female, with Teardrop, during that big storm of males one after another after another climbing on top of her.
He's not very dominant. I've never seen him in musk either.
Yeah, it's a pretty slow day today. We had that big rainstorm last night.
You think they're in the forest at little pools.
Yeah. They don't feel real compelled to come in today.
Andrea, there are two elephants a little further on who don't look so big and they're kind of pushing each other around that hole.
Oh, that's Liza Seree and a juvenile female. Yeah, he's in a hole and she's getting a little too close to him and he doesn't like it. Yeah, and he keeps on pushing her. There's a lot of learning going on.
learning about who's dominant to whom this moment and then ten minutes later and then ten minutes later again.
And there's so much competition in this clearing for these select holes where they can get minerals. So it's constant pushing and displacement and getting what you want or what you can't get.
Why do you think the males are less attracted to these sandy pits closer to the mirador?
Cause I think they're smaller pits. And I think, physically, the males can't handle the smaller pits. They prefer the big pits probably because of their tusk length. I think their tusks get in the way.
Right. Forest elephants specialty is the length of the males' tusks.
Yeah. Even at an early age. I mean you see that Liza 3. He's probably a 7 year old and he's got tusks that are probably 40cm long, which you never see in Savannah. Juvenile males. I was recently in the savannah and you don't see this pre-cocial tusk development.
You mean these elephants actually have bigger tusks?
Well they have longer tusks at an earlier age. I mean that was one reason people always speculated on the existence of a pigmy elephant in the forest like Liza 3 who's like 7 years old, he comes into the bai, he's alone, where's his family group? He must be an adult male. But he's not, he's a juvenile male. I know his family pretty well. But he comes in periodically on his own. But his family's around. But if you come here one time, you see these little males with long tusks and you think they're adults because they're alone. Because we have this habit of looking at elephants always with their groups. But that doesn't happen here all the time. These animals don't have predators. They don't have lions so there's no need for them to form these defensive units to take care of each other. The savannah it's a much different situation. But they're communicating with each other too. His family may come in today. There's two other adult females and an infant, two infants. You know the forest is a much different setting for elephants. They have a lot more resources than savannah elephants.
I suppose though that if you're communicating over long distances and not using vision at all that as soon as you get into the forest it's the same sort of thing as long distance communication in the savannah. And then this question about seismic communication. It's been so interesting these past few days to see so many contagious stampedes where elephants in the north, elephants in the south will start off simultaneously and you feel they must be either hearing or feeling each other's footfalls.
Well a lot of times with males in these holes a dominant male, well a male will be in the hole and another male will approach him and he can't smell the male, there's been nothing coming in on the spectrogram and you ask yourself, how does he know that something bigger and more dominant is coming behind him? And he gives way to that male coming up behind him, so it must be seismic.
Without even turning around and looking.
Yeah, without even turning around and looking.
But he does seem to know who it is too. It's not just footfalls because he won't give way to (9:15 FX elephant call) one that isn't relevant to him.
See, right now he sensed there was somebody coming up behind him, Matilda 2, so Miles got out of the hole and chased him and you just heard him squeal. And he was facing in the opposite direction.
Now Matilda 2 is thinking about sneaking in. If you don't get in by dominance you get in by sneaking.
And you don't spend much time in the hole that way.
Yeah, right? But you can shop around from hole to hole.
Here comes somebody.
A new elephant coming in.
Yup. From a reddish brown swimming place, bathing place.
I can get the scope up, I can have a look. Oh, you know who I think it is, it's Anemone 3.
And who is that?
This is a very aggressive group that we've had problems with.
This is the daughter of the mother she's one of the group that treed us the other day when we were trying to work on the autonomous recording units up in the tree.
And she's always had this reputation as being pretty aggressive. So it's good to know who she is because the majority of these elephants aren't very aggressive but this particular family can be kind of dangerous because they come for you, they don't stop, they just keep coming.
You can see from here the tree that we were up in.
You can see the tree that we were up in, I can show you where it is. You can see the yellow unit that Chris was desperately trying to get up in the tree when suddenly we heard this rumbling.
Here comes the rest of the group. The next one coming in is Anemone 1, the matriarch.
The mean one?
Yeah. She's really mean. But her daughter's just as bad. Anemone 1 has taught Anemone 3 everything she knows.
There's a whole bunch of them coming.
Yeah, it's a group of 5. and there's actually another adult female in the group who I haven't seen recently that has two calves.
That's it, they were all there, I know they were. You notice how Andrea pronounces the word 'anemone.'
Yeah, it's like 'an enemy.' That wasn't intentional, it just happened that way.
Katy, what happened in that tree?
Well, we had placed an ARU out there on Feb. 1st. And then because it's way down at the end of the clearing we had been reluctant to go down because every time you walk through the elephants' terrain you either disturb them or you run the risk of getting chased by them too. So we had delayed. And then Erika and Chris and I went down with Azobe to finally lift this unit and its battery and its microphone up into the tree out of reach of the elephants. And while Chris was in the process of working on it up in the tree we suddenly heard a tremendous roar and rumble really really close to us. And there was this elephant, huger and bigger than life, with her ears flared and probably with all 4 of the others, rumbling and roaring at us. And we climbed a tree quite quickly. And Azobe, brave fellow, clapped his shoes together and shouted at them and slapped his machete on a log and there was quite a showdown. It went on for a few minutes and eventually he won, they backed away.
You were really lucky. You had a lot of tree fall between you and her.
Yeah, yeah. It's not the way any of us like to do our work. We would like it to be completely non-invasive. And that was a moment when they were saying exactly that to us.
Yeah, that's exactly the wrong elephant to run into. The majority of elephants would have backed off. But she's a particularly aggressive female.
What would they actually do Andrea?
Well, that one I don't trust. If she could get you she would. She would kneel on you and probably stab you with her tusks. And you'd be lucky if you survived. And out here there's very little medical care. You can't really get to medical facilities fast. So a minor thing could be fatal. But I have no real fear of these animals. Usually I can interpret their behavior. Like I said, in 11 years I've never had problems. And I'm very cautious. I read them. If I meet females in the forest I tend to make a detour around them without making noise. Males you usually can tap on the tree with a machete and they'll walk away from you. So you just have to be able to read their behavior, and not aggravate them. I don't think aggravating elephants is a wise thing to do. Because you don't know what they've encountered in the past. I suspect with this particular female she's had problems with people. (KP: I bet she has.) And she has not forgotten it. And they don't forget.
Elephants don't forget, really?
No, they do not forget (KP: Oh no they do not). They know exactly where they are. I mean many times in this Bai the same elephant will come in from the same entrance say in the north, the same time for like three consecutive days. I mean that entails memory.
The danger in this particular situation that we were in is not anything I anticipate when we work in other forests where the listening devices might be useful in counting elephants and interpreting the health of populations. It's that we need to put them in particular places here so we can localize sounds and figure out what the sounds mean and which individuals, which age and sex class are making which sounds. For that reason we have chosen this place which has the densest population of forest elephants in the world. And we wouldn't be in any conflict with them at all if we were working in a lower density I imagine.
Yeah, this area's much different from savannahs where you ride around and look at elephants. Here you have to walk around them. It's a lot different feeling. I like it in fact. I don't like savannahs anymore. I'd rather walk around in forests. Yeah, here she comes. She just looks like she has a lot of intentional feeling.
She looks big to me.
But her tusks are not very long.
No, they're not very long. She had a sister who disappeared, Ladybeard, who was dominant over her and she was much more aggressive. But she's disappeared; I haven't seen her in four years.
Do you notice the behavior of the other elephants changing when she's around? That is, do they recognize her?
Well, a lot of cases, she's not a very dominant female. You'd think because she'd be aggressive towards people she'd be dominant over other individuals. Like right now, she's walked away from Susan. Susan just turned and sort of gave her a signal and she backed off. But there is a hierarchy between females as well.
Look look how her ears are folded now? (AT: Yeah, backwards yeah) And that looks aggressive to me.
And also Anemone 1. Yeah, that's tense.
And you don't see that very often. But Anemone 1¿
Well see, she's got in a hole now. Backwards got out of the way.
So there are 3 other elephants with her?
No, there's four.
And how old are they?
Well her daughter is close to being an adult. Her daughter's probably about 14. (AC: That's the big one off to the right there?) Off to the left. See the elephant off to the left with practically no tail hairs with her rear-end to us? That's her daughter. And she's just as nasty as Mom.
So that's Anemone 2?
That's Anemone 3. Anemone 2 is another adult female that has two male calves. And she's very mellow. But she doesn't travel with this group very often. Her youngest calf is in the hole with her right now. He's about 3 and a half. And maybe she'll have another calf soon, her breasts look pretty swollen. There's another calf about 8 and then the one to the right is probably about a 10 year old, 11 year old. So she probably breeds every four years.
How far away from us are they?
Oh, what, about 80 meters? Cause we've measured one of those holes.
Less than 200 feet.
FX elephant peeing.
That's been her favorite spot all this last week. She always comes close to the hide. And her youngest is a male. All the rest of her offspring are females, so he's the baby boy.
Is there any evidence of a bond group for her?
Yeah, there was Ladybeard but Ladybeard's disappeared. But Ladybeard's daughter had a calf that I don't see very often.
What's a bond group?
Well it's a group that one group will associate with strongly. And we think they're probably blood related. But we'd have to do genetic work to prove that.
how big are they?
Oh well some of the groups here get to be about 20 individuals. This group right now if Ladybeard was still alive would be about 14. But it's taken many years to figure that out because you have to be here to keep track of individuals, who they arrive with, who they associate with here in the Bai, in fact who they tolerate in close company. You see these animals don't tolerate many individuals closely. When you have three groups, here you have Susan, you have Backwards, and you have Anemone and they're not very friendly towards one another. We originally thought forest elephants formed very small groups but they formed big groups. They just don't spend a lot of time together.
Probably the very big groups in the savannah are selected for by the fact that there's all this predator pressure and that the predators hunt in packs so you have wild dogs, you have lions which hunt in very large groups. And when these groups find large groups of elephants and they're much less likely to attack than if they just encounter one or two. But here where there are no predators there's nothing to support that. And the distribution of food is different here too, it's much more spread out.
And you have two seasons here for food availability. You have right now it's pretty hard for elephants because there's not a lot of fruit being produced by trees so they're pretty much eating anything they can find, leaves, roots, bark. So you see a lot of destruction in terms of the vegetation. Whereas in the fruiting season they're dependent on fruit. They know where the fruiting trees are. They'll even knock it out of trees with their heads. And it's a much better season for them. But right now it's pretty harsh. It's a lean season. But they're not very lean, as you can see.
What's that one down way down at the end in I guess it must be a lot of water down in that hole. And he or she has been throwing it and is now covered in this mustard colored coat of mud. It's really very nice.
It's quite beautiful.
Right. And sometimes from the left in that big highway way in the back you see glistening brick red elephants coming in from another pool that happens to be red.
It probably makes them feel much cooler. It's like a big facial.
They always seem to feel feisty.
FX elephant roar.
Up, somebody got chased.
The ochre bath.
Females can go on their knees. They get down in the hole. When the big males go down on their knees they encounter their tusks in the way.
Yeah, those big holes accommodate males. That's why when it rains and these pools fill up you see a lot fewer males. It's just too difficult for them to get to these minerals.
Are there any tuskless big adult males here?
Yeah, there's one that chased us the first time you were here. Down in the swamp, remember?
I mean he's one. I should look at his dates and see how often, he probably comes in more often during the rainy season than other big tusk males.
Well, he's got an advantage. He can use these pits.
Give me an idea of the seasons. You've been talking about the dry season and the wet season. (AT: When do these seasons occur?) Yeah, speaking calendar-wise.
Okay. Dry season, we have like two dry seasons here. One is a long dry season. It starts basically in the beginning of December and goes to the end of March. So right now we're in the big dry season. And during that season we have a lot of activity in the Bai. It's basically the breeding season. It's when you see males go into must and females go into estrus so you see a lot of copulation. You see new calves. This is when I count more new calves than any other part of the year. And then towards the end of March you start getting rains. And you go into a small wet season that will last basically until the end of June. In July and August get a little drier but we still have rain. And in July and August you have a small must season. So males seem to coordinate their must with dry weather. And then in September, October, November we get the heavy wet season, which is a very grey wet time of year where you see mostly calves and females in the Bai. The males seem to cut out of the area during that period. What's interesting during this long dry period there are some bulls that I only see during this period. They seem to head into Dzanga, probably because it's a prime breeding ground and they're gonna have the chance to encounter a lot more females here in estrus than probably in any other area because the density of elephants is so high here. And also these seasons, as I mentioned before, have a lot to do with the feeding. The dry season is a harder season for them to find food. Right now it's the flowering season so all the flowers will turn to fruit and we'll have a lot more fruit during the wet season.
But ah, have you radio-collared or has anyone radio-collared any of these males that you only see rarely here? Because I wonder how far they're moving.
They're moving a couple hundred kilometers. I mean they've radio-collared from the project in Congo, the Nuahalé Ndoki project, the wildlife conservation society project. But my feeling is these animals are individuals; some go far¿male and female¿and some don't go as far. I mean that's what I'm seeing here. Some of these individuals you see basically all year round and others you only see a couple of times a year.
How do you, I mean if you see an individual a couple of times a year, how do you recognize them? I mean even though you have a lot of experience?
Well, I've begun to believe I'm very visual. And I do a lot of drawings of ears. And when I'm here alone I spend a lot of hours alone just watching. And when you're doing that every day for eleven years you remember it. I mean I'm just very good at remembering this and thinking about it a lot. But I have cards. I have identity cards for all the individuals. So when I come here I basically identify all the individuals I know and the ones that I don't know that have prominent earmarks, these holes and notches, I draw. And I also keep an account of the age, the sex, the associates, who the individual is with, in the case of females, family groups. And in the evening I go back and I sort of digest all this material and I figure it out. And it works. It's a very simple way of keeping count. I take photos but I don't use them for identification because in the forest you just can't keep that stuff from deteriorating. So the paper and pencil, with a spotting scope, gives you the means to do this. And you can build up a library of all these individuals and then keep track of them year after year. I've been very fortunate, I've had 11 years. Not many people get that.
There are very few people though that I've ever met who have a sense of the gestalt of the whole animal as clearly as you do. When an animal comes in way down at the south end you'll just say yeah, well that's Kot 2 and I'll say well how do you know, I can hardly see her. And you'll say, well, the way she walks and the length of her back in relation to the length of her legs and all kinds of things that are just in your memory.
Yeah. It's day after day, year after year.
You're the best at it of anybody I've ever met.
Well, it's what I do. But they become like individuals, they become like people. And I never would have believed that 11 years ago. But it's a constant thing that I do and it's a job and I happen to be good at that. I'm lucky to have found something that I'm very good at in life and this happens to be it. But they do, they have certain postures and way of walking. When they come in you can sort of tell right away. It's sort of a game that I play with myself that I'll see an individual come in and say, I bet that's so and so and then I'll look through the scope and sure enough, usually I'm pretty much on at that. And it's never boring cause there's always something every day that happens that puts more of the pieces together for me.
Or it takes them apart again.
Exactly. Like, who is that juvenile male, he wasn't with her last week! I'm having a few of those this week.
Who's this patient mother letting the infant go into the whole?
It's Anemone 1.
Well you know, look, isn't she nice to her own. She looks as though she's guarding.
But it's basically the ear pattern that you're watching.
Yeah, the ear pattern, the curvature of the tusks, the length¿I estimate tusk length, body scarring. Some of them are very subtle. There's a female here today, Aida, she has no earmarks. But I just know her face. And her daughter has one nick in the left ear. But they're not always together. But Aida I have known for 11 years, she's one of the original elephants we identified here. I mean a lot of them I can't even tell you what their ears look like now because I just know their faces.
When I look at these amazingly huge tusks on the males, like Miles' tusks for instance, I think what a miracle it is that these males have survived in a part of a country where there is very little central governmental control. And isn't it true that forest elephant ivory is thought to be more valuable, better carving material?
Yeah, the Japanese prefer it. It's harder; it's denser. It's basically harder material so it's preferred by artisans to carve.
But here's this place, so many hours from anything else, a place that's known for the timber that's being rapidly removed. How do you think they've survived, I mean a hundred years ago it was a place known for it's ivory.
Yeah, turn of the century this place was heavily (KP coughs) exploited for ivory.
The beginning of the 1900's?
Yeah, because (KP coughs) the French and the Belgians had this concession system where they would lease out land¿I don't know exactly how it worked, but it was the whole Heart of Darkness Mr. Kurtz. He was one of these people that went into the bush and forcibly extracted things from people. People had to bring in rubber, they had to bring in ivory, they had to bring in different forest products and ivory was one of the main items. And they exported hundreds of tons of ivory from this part of the world. I mean there are records and archives in France. It must have been an amazing place in about 1860. I mean you probably could come up to Sangha River and see elephants at the edge. You don't see that now but there certainly are elephants here. And it's all very tenuous right now too because there's all this logging going on. This area's basically surrounded by logging concessions, building roads, lot of poaching going on, lot of guns coming in.
Yeah. There's been a lot of civil unrest in this area (KP clears her throat) so trying to protect these animals is very very difficult.
But they've only officially been protected for thirty years or so right?
Uh, well actively protected in this area since the end of the 80's when WWF helped create a national park in this area.
(coughs) How do you think, how do you account for their survival?
FX loud elephant call
What was that?
That's Susan 6. Um, there survival. Well I think the vegetation helps and the inaccessibility into this area. But those days are slowly coming to an end. I mean there's roads being built. There's more and more people coming into this area for several reasons. They can cultivate all year and they're trying to get away from areas of civil unrest. This area is pretty safe in terms of not getting involved in say coups de etats in Bangui, cause I've sat through a couple and you just sit here and wait and we don't have any problems. But there's now automatic weapons here. I didn't see automatic weapons for many years and last four years that's changed. You can pick them up very quickly.
Well one thing I was wondering is what about a romantic idea and maybe you wouldn't agree with it at all.
Well go ahead.
That between 1900 and 1980s when WWF helped to establish these parks, for some reason this particular place did not lose it's old and huge elephants (AT: No, there are still very big bulls) and I'm just wondering whether they don't strike a kind of respect in this particular Bai, which is obviously a miracle. I mean anybody from any culture coming to this clearing will say to himself, "Oh my god. I never would have believed it. This is like the heart of the earth. Here they all are. Look at the numbers, look at the health, look at the hugeness. And I just wonder whether, well it's always tempting to say people are very exploitative but I wonder whether this isn't such a miracle that it's been preserved by its own nature. Maybe not now that there are automatic guns. But during all those years when there was nothing to keep people from exploiting them to extinction.
AMBI: sounds like it's raining in the background.
Well I think until about 15 years ago this was not an area you could easily get to.
Well there was the river.
Yeah, but still not like now with the road. Until 1972 there was no road to Bayanga. There was a footpath and you could come up the river but south of Bayanga there was nothing. Now there's at least two logging companies within 50km of Bayanga.
When you say south of Bayanga there was nothing¿
Yeah. Well even in Cameroon. But now these logging camps have opened up in the last 20 years so you get people moving in. We have guns coming in from Cameroon, people coming here to hunt. That's the problem with elephants, there's always hunting going on. It's always happening.
What do you think the elephants did last night in that huge thunderstorm?
Well if there was a good clap of thunder here they probably left. They don't like thunder.
Run out of the Bai and into the forest?
Yeah, and eventually come back in. I don't know I think some of the big tusk males, they're smart. You notice if there's noise they move and they don't come back. The females come back but in this Bai if the males are scared off they generally don't come back. I mean like Hilton was scared the other day and he didn't come back. And he's a huge male. But ah, I think they're savvy, they're wise.
Or maybe they've learned that they're the ones the hunters are after.
Yeah, I think they do know that.
I figured he was just following a female. After all, he's in must. (AT: That's right) I think he got on a trail.
But I have a feeling a lot of the big tuskers have been taken out of the population over the past five years. There's individuals that I don't see ever again that I saw regularly over the course of 5 or 6 years. And now they don't come in anymore.
Yeah. And the hunting here used to be a lot more selective. Now people are going more for the meat. For example that scull in the clearing there belongs to a female I knew for about 9 years. And she was tuskless. And she was always around with her 3 offspring. And I came back from the States 2 years ago and my trackers described her to me, cause they saw the carcass when it was fresh. And I couldn't figure it out. And then one day I saw two of her three offspring and I figured out who it was. So it must have been people just shooting and not being very discerning about what they were doing. Cause everybody wants to shoot an elephant. Well I wouldn't say everybody, but a lot of young males would like to shoot elephants. They probably just fired at her and she ran off and came here and died. It was a waste. She had no tusks and there wasn't even any meat taken from her.
Really? They didn't take any meat?
No because they probably wounded her in the forest and she came in here to die. She's a wonderful cow though. She would stand down there and throw dirt on me. (AC: right underneath you?) Right down here, yeah.
FX Elephant roar.
but it is a miracle that this place has lasted so long. I mean it's 12km from the sides of a village, a village created around a logging company. And there's elephants that go into the village. We've never had a problem with people being killed by elephants. The only cases of people being killed by elephants is by people hunting them. But we have very few cases of people actually being harmed by elephants, who aren't hunting them.
Hilton's tusks must be more than 2m long, aren't they?
I think they're approaching 2m. They're very thin but they're like ¾ of his body height. Yeah, he's beautiful. And he comes in just during the big long dry season. And this year I was away but Katy was here and they filmed him and it was great, when I came back they said, "Oh, we think Hilton came in" and they showed me the video and sure enough, that was him. Here comes Whitman.
Oh, just walking in. That elephant, now you're not using your glasses, and that elephant has got to be (AT:300 meters) I mean that's at the very very edge of the clearing.
Yeah, that's him though. He's got good nice thick tusks, they're pretty parallel, and he's pretty stocky. But see he's been in the past few days so I'm sort of, he's in my minds eye these past few days.
That's what I'm saying, it's the greatest. Oh mind, would you please get an eye like that?
I don't wear my glasses anymore for distance.
Something about the way he holds his head, something about the way he swings his tail.
But you weren't using your spotting scope.
or field glasses
No, nothing, just eye. Oh, maybe I'm wrong, maybe I should look at him now. No, that's Whitman; no, I know that's Whitman, I know that's him.
See how softly and methodically he places his feet on the ground? With a seismic detector you barely pick up footfalls when an elephant is walking past you. But you pick up the vocalizations because these are such heavy animals. They shake the earth.
He's funny came into his first must last week. And then yesterday he was in and he showed no sign of must. And he doesn't seem to have any sign today.
When he's in must he not only dribbles a very smelly substance from his temporal glands in his eyes but he also urinates continually and the faster he walks the more urine he leaves. So he's leaving an odor trail the way ants do. And other elephants encountering this odor trail respond to it and obviously recognize that perhaps the very individual but certainly that a must male is present.
Yes, he's deferring to Miles.
It was 330m when Whitman came in and ID'ed him
How long does the must period last for a male?
Well see that's the limitation¿this place is not a limitation but it's the term I use for the type of situation I'm in. I sit here and I wait for them to come in so the only kind of information I can gather concerning say the length of must in males is how many times I see them. And then if I'm lucky they come in later and they're not in must. His situation is a little bit different because I think it's his first must and he's not one of the biggest bulls. With the biggest bulls I'd say maybe two months. But I don't have a lot of data for that because as I say, I have to wait for them to come in because if they don't come in and I see them once I have no idea.
So now he's ambling along. He's just come up to this hole, this dip, and another elephant, whose back was to him, got up and walked out, just as he was about to arrive.
Yeah, so how does he figure that out? Because I think the wind is blowing this way, which is away from the male that he displaced. So he had no olfactory signal. And like we've seen on the spectrogram, there's no vocalization going on so it must be just the footfalls.
Here's another one coming in.
Yeah, who is this?
He's got a kind of a hump at his rear end.
Yeah, that's Latona 2. She was in this morning.
There's another one, a young offspring.
Yeah, the baby. Yeah, that's Latona 2. Latona 1 was in before too which I suspect is the mother of this one that just came in. And they're red. We have some red elephants coming in too. (45:44)
Here comes somebody else, another red elephant. Maybe it's Latona 1 with her calf because these two are always together.
A beautiful red. So there must be a red bath down to the south as well as to the east.
Okay, there's another calf coming in. A juvenile. Might be Latona 4, who's Latona 1's calf. Oh yeah, here comes somebody else from the south. Yup, that's Latona 1 from the south and her calf coming in from the right. They were in this morning so that's cheating a little bit. But the cow on the end, Latona 1, she has pretty long tusks. If you look at her quickly you think she's a male. (KP: Oh yes.) She has very long tusks, probably 50 centimeters. Some of the females here have impressive tusks also.
But that's definitely a difference between forest elephants and savannah elephants. Because female savannah elephants really have big tusks, big forward pointing tusks. And here you have this huge difference between males and females. Bigger tusks for the males and smaller for the females and downward pointing. (AT: yeah, rather than pointing upward.) (47:38)
That's Anemone I think and her male calf. Just a little mud bath on the outside there.
She just has a very straight back, doesn't she?
Yeah, it's very flat. Very level.
FX: elephant low rumbling. (some feedback on the left side in the microphone)
What is going on here?
I wanted to ask you what you think happened?
Um, it might have been the wind, might have switched, and he might have got a whiff of us. And he panicked, and all it takes is one elephant and they're all out of here. But there's about 9 that left, out of 30. And they all went into the forest over there. So they might come back. Usually they come back within 30 minutes. They really associate this place with being a pretty safe place so they generally come back. So we'll see if they come back from this area here. See that female, she was here, she just took a little detour through the forest and she's coming back at the southern end.
Here comes a couple more coming back now. One began to run and soon they were all galloping.
Yeah, the young male that came out here. He was panicking so when the ones near him heard him running they started running and it was just a contagious reaction through the Bai. But I suspect most of them will be back. There's 17 now and there was about 30 when they left so we've lost about 13. So we'll see if they come back. It just takes one. (49:59)
Fiddling with the mikes.
ambi. Whispered voices and lots of birds calling in the distance and the foreground. A bee buzzing by.
more fiddling and feedback in the microphones
FX: squawking animal with a hoot in the middle.
checking to see if a change of batteries is needed.
My name is Mya Thompson. And I'm a research assistant with the elephant listening project.
Are you at Cornell full time?
Yup. As an employee.
And do you have an undergraduate degree, graduate degree, post-doc?
Yup. I have an undergraduate degree from Oberlin College. But I grew up in Ithaca. (53:36)
My name is Melissa Groo. And I'm a research assistant to Katy Payne and the Elephant Listening Project.
How long have you been working there?
I actually have a graduate degree in a different field. I have a bachelor's in English lit, a bachelor's in elementary education and a master's in education.
And here you are studying elephants.
And here I am studying elephants, yeah. (54:31)
My name is Eric Spaulding. You can just call me Eric. (AC: And what is your job?) I am the project engineer.
And boy wonder.
more. But nothing too interesting, mostly just whispering.