Joyce Poole has studied the social behavior and communication of African elephants for over thirty years and has dedicated her life to their conservation and welfare. The inspiration for her life's work came from a childhood in Africa, a father with a love of nature, and a lecture by Jane Goodall that she attended at the age of eleven. She began her work with elephants at the age of 19 in Amboseli National Park studying there under mentor, and Director of the Amboseli Elephant Research Project, Cynthia Moss.
Decades-long study of elephant behavior and communication
In Amboseli Joyce's early work focused on the social and reproductive behavior of male elephants. Discovering in 1978 that African male elephants experience a heightened sexual and aggressive period known as musth, led her to carry out detailed study of their socio-sexual behavior. In the mid 1980s she extended her study to elephant communication, first concentrating on the signaling patterns between males in musth. The very low frequency sounds produced by male elephants led to work with Katy Payne, and the finding that, like their Asian cousins, African elephants use sounds below the level of human hearing. Together, Joyce and Katy turned their attention to the role of infrasound in elephant long-distance communication. In the late 1990s Joyce began to document the vocal repertoire and body language of African elephants discovering, in the process, that elephants are capable of vocal imitation.
Scientific knowledge is used to protect elephants
Joyce's elephant research has not been confined to the realm of academic journals. Data from surveys in 1989 showing that the killing of elephants for ivory was destroying the social fabric of elephant society were used in the campaign which successfully banned the international trade in ivory. Understanding of male elephant behavior, and the importance of social learning and role models in elephant society have been key to the adoption of more humane elephant management practices. Between 1990-1994 she had the opportunity to head the Elephant Program of Kenya Wildlife Service, working with and training many of the men and women who hold key elephant management positions in Kenya today.
ElephantVoices founded in 2002
During the latter half of the 1990s Joyce returned to her long-term study of elephants believing that she could best influence their future by sharing her knowledge and enthusiasm. Since 2000 she has continued her elephant communication work with Norwegian husband and colleague, Petter Granli, and together they founded ElephantVoices (initially Savanna Elephant Vocalization Project) in 2002. Petter's creativity and his background in marketing and communication influenced their decision to share the voices of elephants via the internet in the belief that better understanding could help change public perception and improve the survival prospects for elephants. The second generation ElephantVoices website launched in 2009, with its associated databases of elephant sounds and gestures, is the fruit of an idea planted almost a decade ago and the result of many years of work in association with numerous dedicated colleagues and friends.For years we lived and had our office at Raha Mstarehe (Kiswahili for joyful tranquility) south of the Ngong Hills, Kenya, overlooking a rugged segment of the Great Rift Valley. From there we travelled for extended field trips to Amboseli. Education and future opportunities for our daughter, Selengei, and Norwegian family ties, led to our decision in late 2004 to move our base to the other side of the world: to Sandefjord, Norway. After more than 35 years in Africa Joyce is adapting to a new continent. Like Kenya, Norway offers fantastic nature, though the climate is a bit different! Although Norway has no elephants, it isn't as strange a place to be for people like us as it sounds. After many years in the field we feel that the most important thing we can do now is to be a voice for elephants - and Sandefjord, with fiberoptic broadband connection, means that communication via Skype, Facebook, email and our website works well. We are only 12 minutes drive from a small international airport (Torp, TRF) which means we can travel easily to Africa, Asia or anywhere in the world where we can make a difference for elephants.
In September 2008 we registered as a non-profit charitable organisation in California.
|Last Updated on Thursday, 16 June 2011 11:55|