Story Biodiversity

Dzanga-Sangha: Deciphering the Secret Language of Forest Elephants

Elephants don't just trumpet loudly. Much more often they communicate through a low-frequency rumble, which we humans often do not hear, but can sometimes feel.

Stephanie Probst, Ivonne Kienast, Thomas Breuer

In the forests of Central Africa, researchers are working on an impressive archive of almost a million hours of sound. They monitor endangered forest elephants acoustically and aim to learn to understand their language. Forest elephants lead a life in secret. In the dense vegetation of their habitats, they are difficult to spot. Nevertheless, they have been the victims of  poaching  in large numbers for decades.

This is because their tusks are harder than those of other elephant species, which makes the ivory easier to work with. In addition, the opaque thickets of their forests also provide cover for poachers. However, both the elephants and their adversaries are rarely seen in the dense forest, but both can be heard.