A terrifying encounter with a charging elephant at Kenya’s Amboseli National Park when she was only six years old did not keep Dr. Joyce Poole from devoting her life to studying the fascinating animals. Or publishing a vast, publicly available database -- the Elephant Ethogram: A Library of African Elephant Behavior. The compendium consists of about 500 behaviors and 110 behavior suites, the written narration illustrated by more than 3,000 audio and video clips. “To have all the postures, gestures, vocalizations and signals displayed and explained in one place, I don’t know of anything else like it,” says Cynthia Moss, founder of the Amboseli Trust for Elephants. Across millennia, elephants have evolved complex communication and cultural systems, keeping track of each other through multi-tiered networks of families and clans. Dr. Poole made the startling discovery that elephants can keep in touch with far-flung peers by generating deep, low-frequency signals that we humans can hardly hear. These and other fascinating details revealed by the studies of these dedicated scientists make the thought that these complex, kind and caring animals may soon become extinct unbearable. Only 400,000 elephants remain of an estimated 10 million elephants that used to roam across the African continent in 1913. Poachers still pose a threat, but the bigger danger is losing habitat, food and water. As Dr. Cynthia Moss says, “It would be a very sad Earth if there weren’t elephants striding across it.” 

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