Dear Friends of ElephantVoices,
We often think about you during these disturbing and challenging times. In Amboseli, in late February, we made detailed plans for a US tour this month. It included a visit to the Elephant Listening Project at Cornell about collaborative research, a workshop at The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee and a keynote speech at a PAWS' Captive Wildlife Conference in San Andreas. And we had hoped to see and visit many of you. All that, like so much else this year, had to be cancelled. We will revisit our plans and get back to you when the time is right.
The silver-lining is that lots of time in our home office permits us to have The Elephant Ethogram: A Library of African Elephant Behavior online in a few weeks time. As most of you know, we have been working on this monumental project for the last few years. The Elephant Ethogram is, in many ways, the fruit of a life’s work and we are so glad to make it available to anyone interested in the behavior and communication of elephants. Once published, you will be able to look through well over 2,200 educational video clips that are annotated in soap-opera-like detail. You will be able to listen to hundreds of elephant calls and to search for behaviors by context, active body part, age and gender. For instance, you can try searching for all behaviors involving the trunk that are expressed by juvenile females. We describe and define each behavior and provide numerous video examples as it occurs in different contexts.
Each video in The Elephant Ethogram represents a little story in itself - windows into the lives of elephants. Frame by frame the captions describe the drama that unfolds in each clip - character by character, behavior by behavior. Some behaviors are common, others are rare and some are downright peculiar! Like us, you will feel your heart in your throat as you watch one of Angelina’s twins float down the river as if drowned, the panic stricken allomothers trying to revive him. And like us you will puzzle over why a young male spent 8 minutes using a little twig to “measure” the distance between his inner forelegs and his nipples - back and forth, over and over again.
It has been an extremely rewarding, but massive effort to get the The Elephant Ethogram to where it is now. We look forward to welcome you to an online, guaranteed virus-free game-drive, with us as your guides to the complex behavior of elephants.
A warm thank you to Crystal Springs Foundation, WildiZe Foundation, The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee and The Marshall Frankel Foundation for providing funds for this milestone initiative. Many others have contributed over the years - we are immensely grateful. A big Thank You also goes to documentary film makers Off the Fence, The Gorongosa Media Project and Bob Poole Films, who made available terabytes of raw elephant footage for us to mine. Added to our own, this footage has been an invaluable resource in this project. And last, but not least, a far-reaching Contact-Rumble and Thank You to our many two and four-legged friends in Gorongosa, Maasai Mara and Amboseli - you are often with us in our thoughts and dreams.
We have exciting plans for the upcoming year and will give you updates in due time. While we will continue to supplement The Elephant Ethogram with rare behaviors, it will also be an important component in further collaboration with other scientists. Furthermore, we will use this resource to continue promoting the interests of elephants. The Elephant Ethogram shows the true nature of elephants - which should be the basis for any discussion about their protection and welfare.
Thank you again for supporting ElephantVoices - with your help we'll continue making a difference for elephants! We look forward to see you in 2021 - in the mean time, take care and stay well.
Warm wishes, Joyce and Petter