WFAE: RESEARCH AND PROJECTS
In some ways, the Elephant Listening Project began at the Portland Zoo in 1984, when Katy Payne felt (more than heard) the low-frequency rumbling communication of two Asian elephants, a male and female, who were standing on opposite sides of a concrete wall. In the following years, Katy and a group of dedicated colleagues demonstrated that elephants often communicate using sounds below the threshold of human hearing, that these sounds carry over vast distances, and that elephants use vocal communication to bind their complex family social system together. Katy describes the fascinating trajectory of her interest in elephant communication in the delightful book Silent Thunder: In the Presence of Elephants.
One of Katy’s insights was that we could perhaps ‘eavesdrop’ on the elephant’s lives by recording their vocal exchanges and learning to identify the contexts in which certain calls are used. In 1999, Katy and several colleagues founded ELP to further the use of acoustic methods to study and aid in the conservation of forest elephants in Central Africa.
The Elephant Listening Project is a not-for-profit organization associated with the Bioacoustics Research Program (BRP) at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in Ithaca, New York. Since its inception, ELP has depended on financial support from a diversity of governmental and non-governmental organizations, private donors and BRP.
Some of the earliest research was focused on characterizing low-frequency communication in savannah elephants, but increasingly the focus has been on forest elephants in the rainforests of Central Africa. (Source: ELP)
Related Book: Silent Thunder: In the Presence of Elephants by Katy Payne.
This remarkable memoir of scientific discovery begins at the Washington Park Zoo in Portland, Oregon, where Katy Payne's revolutionary work in the field of elephant communication began. It was there that she first discovered the idea that elephants use infrasonic sounds -- sounds below the range of human hearing -- to communicate. This led Payne and her colleagues to conduct field research in Kenya, Namibia, and Zimbabwe that brought about fascinating new insights into elephants' social lives. When five of the elephant families they were studying became victims of culling, Payne changed her approach to her research as she fought valiantly to protect African elephants.
Silent Thunder is a natural history rich in observation of the animal world and how humans participate in it. It is also a passionate story of Payne's own spiritual quest as she turns a keen eye on her own role in this world. On every page Payne's courage and empathy shine through, giving this unique combination of scientific journal and personal memoir an unforgettable emotional power. (Source: Better World Books)
Publisher: Penguin Books 1999
ISBN - 9780140285963