Elephant communication & cognition
Our long-term study of elephant social behavior, communication and cognition has centered around our work on elephants in Amboseli, Kenya. We have worked there in collaboration with the Amboseli Elephant Research Project (AERP) and affiliated scientists, Karen McComb, Lucy Bates, Beth Archie, Hamisi Mutinda, Graeme Shannon and Julie Hollister-Smith in a decades-long study of African savanna elephants. Our own data go back to 1975 when Joyce first joined the Amboseli project.
Since 2000 we have concentrated our observations and recordings on the EB family, which was led by the famous matriarch, Echo, until she sadly died in May, 2009. These recordings make up a detailed part of our collection. In addition to data from Amboseli, we have recordings from shorter studies of elephants carried out in Tsavo National Park, Maasai Mara National Reserve and the Laikipia, Kenya. We have also made recordings and observations of Asian elephants in Ude Walawe, Wasgamua and Minneriya National Parks in Sri Lanka.
In furthering our understanding of elephants and their communication, we have collaborated with scientists outside the realm of Amboseli, too. We worked with Katy Payne in describing the use of infrasound in African elephants. We collaborate with Caitlin O'Connell to further her work on elephant seismic communication and male elephant behavior in Namibia. We worked with Angela Stoeger-Horwath, Peter Tyack and Stephanie Watwood in decribing the capacity of elephants to imitate sounds. And again with Angela to describe how elephants combine different sound types. We worked with the late Hezy Shoshani in a study of elephant cognition, and currently share thoughts and ideas with Bob Jacobs in his collaborative study of the elephant brain.
We continue to document and describe the vocalizations and body language of elephants and to collaborate with our colleagues in studies aimed at furthering our knowledge of what elephants are capable of understanding.