Older elephants are better leadersMarch 16th, 2011 - 4:58 pm ICT by IANS
London, March 16 (IANS) Older elephants are able to gauge better which lion roars are particularly dangerous.
Zoologists working in Amboseli National Park in southern Kenya found that herds of African elephants led by younger females “often under-react to roars from male lions despite the severe danger they represent”.
But they discovered that groups led by older cow-elephants, or matriarchs, were more likely to act with alarm and take defensive measures when they heard a male lion roar, the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B reports.
Researchers, led by psychologist Karen McComb of Sussex University, implied that what they found in elephants had a lesson for humans, according to the Telegraph.
“Sensitivity to this key threat increases with matriarch age and is greatest for the oldest matriarchs, who are likely to have accumulated the most experience,” they concluded.
They studied the groups’ reactions to different lion roars by playing tape recordings through loudspeakers to 39 elephant family groups, each with five adults on average. They then video-taped the responses.
Key defensive reactions included the matriarch listening intently for a prolonged period after the roar and turning towards the source of the sound, and the elephants bunching together around the young to protect them.
Cow-elephant over 60 were more likely to instigate such defensive behaviour when they heard male lion’s roars than younger ones were.
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