- Conservation: Continue to advocate for elephants against the ivory trade, trophy hunting, and the capture of elephants for captivity, in collaboration with our colleagues.
As an elephant expert Joyce Poole is a member of the African Elephant Specialist Group (AfESG) of the Species Survival Commission of the IUCN and contributes time to the development of policies to conserve and protect elephants. All of our work has the conservation of elephants and conservation awareness at its core.
- Research: Expand The Elephant Ethogram.
This unique and fully searchable online database documents some 425 African elephant behaviors with written descriptions, educational video clips (Sept. 2021: 2400+ with detailed captions), audio with spectrograms (around 250 field recordings) and hundreds of photographs. We will: Expand The Elephant Ethogram with clips from our own Gorongosa footage, and rare behaviors contributed by colleagues, documentary film makers and members of the public; carry out field work in Amboseli, Kenya, for the same purpose, in late 2022 or early 2023; use it as a baseline in our comparative research on African forest and savanna elephant communication (see below); continue to promote it and utilize its contents for the best interest of elephants.
There continues to be substantial interest in The Elephant Ethogram by international media; some key links are included on it's Introduction page. Broad interest in The Elephant Ethogram highlights the fascination the public has with elephant behavior and communication and the role our research and education via The Elephant Ethogram can have in promoting conservation awareness.
- Research: Develop the Elephant Calls Database (ECD) in Claris FileMaker Pro.
ECD is an ElephantVoices internal database currently housing approximately 7,000 records of recorded elephant calls from known individuals in known contexts. Each record is populated with close to 100 fields, including field-notes, metadata, and measurements. We have a further 5,000 or so records to add from additional recordings from Amboseli and Gorongosa. We are currently working with several other scientists to analyze these data, with several papers already published and more in preparation. If we are able to raise sufficient funds, we hope to engage an assistant late next year to help with database population, acoustic measurements, sound file and spectrogram-creation, to prepare for AI-based analysis and other collaborative research.
- Research: Collaborate with The Elephant Listening Project (ELP)/Center for Conservation Bioacoustics at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, on comparative research on the behavior and communication of African Savanna and African Forest elephants.
Our first co-authored publication, “Does social complexity drive vocal complexity - insights from the two African elephant species,” was published in late October 2021. Together with ELP we plan to further our comparative study of the communication of the African savanna and forest elephants, two species that are, respectively, endangered and critically endangered. The forest elephant field site is Dzanga bai in Central African Republic, while our own data is primarily from Amboseli.
- Research: Engage in collaborative research on elephant conservation, communication, behavior and culture.
We aim to co-author several papers on elephant conservation, culture and communication based, in part, on data held in The Elephant Ethogram, the Elephant Calls Database and our online Gorongosa and Maasai Mara Who’s Who & Whereabouts Databases.
In addition to the online publication of The Elephant Ethogram, Joyce Poole and Petter Granli co-authored, respectively, 4 and 3 scientific papers in 2021, including the one on communication in the two African elephant species and one in Science that was published 22 October, entitled, “Ivory poaching and the rapid evolution of tusklessness in African Elephant”. The publication was covered by a broad range of media, including Scientific American. Some of the other coverage can be found via this link. A scientific publication about The Elephant Ethogram was published in Pachyderm No. 62 30 October.
- Education: Contribute our knowledge and data to the media to reach a global audience.
We will continue to offer advice, sounds and images from our archives, to selected high-impact documentary films and educational and media institutions, to broaden interest in elephants and educate the public about their natural behavior and protection of their habitats. We will be involved in an ambitious elephant documentary series to be aired in 2023 intended to inspire elephant conservation by presenting unusual elephant behavior on location around the world.
- Education: Disseminate science-based education and science-telling via ElephantVoices’ social media channels, ElephantVoices.org and external media, partly based on annotated video clips from The Elephant Ethogram.
Since the launch of The Elephant Ethogram in May 2021 quite a few of our posts on Facebook/Instagram have gone viral, some reaching millions of people. We will follow the same strategy in 2022. ElephantVoices has around 400,000 followers on social media as per November 2021.
- Advocacy: Provide science-based advice, statements and affidavits on selected elephant conservation issues and welfare cases.
In 2021 ElephantVoices contributed affidavits for elephants in two key legal cases, one in the United States making the scientific case for non-human rights for elephants and another in South Africa arguing for the re-wilding of elephants held captive in a zoo. The case for non-human rights for elephants is ongoing. An article in The Atlantic from 16 November 2021 gives comprehensive insight to this case.
- Advocacy: Continue to work with Global Sanctuary for Elephants (GSfE, US non-profit) and Elephant Sanctuary Brazil (ESB, Brazilian non-profit) as Co-Founders and Partners.
In 2010, together with a Brazilian partner, ElephantVoices began working toward establishing an elephant sanctuary in Brazil. In 2013 we invited Scott and Kat Blais to take the lead. Poole and Granli have been active board members of, respectively, GSfE and ESB since their inception.