Relephant Factors

What makes an elephant pack its trunk. . . and leave?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Elephant societies are matriarchal. Mothers and grandmothers lead the way. Sadly, older females are often targeted for their tusks. This leaves their family orphaned! So what happens when poaching removes these leading ladies?

Scientists from Colorado State University wondered. They tracked nine elephant families in Kenya with GPS collars. Over sixteen years, the team mapped elephant movements, and how these changed due to poaching and food availability.

Results? Poaching forced families to reorganize. This led to elephants straying from their normal range of exploration. But not all families coped with the loss of their big momma the same way.

Most families avoided poaching areas and tried to find safer, greener places for food. Some even made new friends for knowledge and support! Other families hunkered down and chose to restrict the distance they covered.

Understanding how humans and the environment impact elephant behavior can help us protect them!

Together, we can keep these creatures from becoming ir-elephant. Aw!