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Nature & Environment

Wild elephants each have their own names, new study finds

By T.K. Randall
June 12, 2024 · Comment icon 7 comments
African elephants.
Elephants have names too. Image Credit: PD - Gorgo
Scientists now believe that elephants, like humans, have assigned names that they use when calling one another.
While it has long been suspected that elephants are quite intelligent compared to most animals, a new study by an international team of researchers has succeeded in further emphasizing this point by determining that these giant land mammals actually assign each other distinct names.

The study, which focused on two herds of Wild African elephants in Kenya, used artificial intelligence to analyze hundreds of vocalizations recorded at Samburu national reserve and Amboseli national park between 1986 and 2020.

In total, the machine learning algorithm identified 469 distinct calls.

According to the researchers, it takes calves several years to learn how to use names and when names are used, it is typically over a long distance and by adults to call to their offspring.
To confirm their findings, the team played a recording of a close friend or family member to a specific elephant and noted that the animal seemed to respond positively and enthusiastically.

When a stranger's name was played back, however, the elephant did not react the same way at all.

"[The study] not only shows that elephants use specific vocalizations for each individual, but that they recognize and react to a call addressed to them while ignoring those addressed to others," said study lead author Michael Pardo.

"This indicates that elephants can determine whether a call was intended for them just by hearing the call, even when out of its original context."

Source: The Guardian | Comments (7)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Kittens Are Jerks 1 month ago
Comment icon #2 Posted by ouija ouija 1 month ago
Once again I am puzzled as to why this would surprise people.
Comment icon #3 Posted by josellama2000 30 days ago
Doesnt it suppose the be like that for all social animals?
Comment icon #4 Posted by Ell 29 days ago
Oops, that means that I cannot elephants anymore. I will not eat persons.
Comment icon #5 Posted by pallidin 28 days ago
Exactly One would think. As long as the can vocalize and hear. Sure.
Comment icon #6 Posted by simplybill 27 days ago
I wonder if elephants also have names for individual people? The story below has always fascinated me. From the article: “Upon the passing of Lawrence, these majestic beasts walked 12 hours from Zululand bush to their friend’s home to pay their respects. They stood vigil for two days outside of Lawrence’s house before returning to their regular lives in the bush. Lawrence’s son, Dylan shared, “They had not visited the house for a year-and-a-half and it must have taken them about 12 hours to make the journey.” “If you think that’s the only time that Nana and her herds stood v... [More]
Comment icon #7 Posted by ouija ouija 27 days ago
@simplybill That is a heartwarming story.

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