Bryan Cockel explains how elephants use infrasound

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“Infra” or low frequency sound are frequencies below 20 Hz, the threshold of average human hearing. Many animals – mostly large ones – use infrasound to communicate over long distances because it travels further than higher frequencies. For example, blue whales – the largest animal – communicate over hundreds of miles and are the “loudest” animal in the world (“loud” being amplitude or the strength of the signal) – but they do so in the 10-30 Hz range similar to elephants, so we can’t hear them “yelling”.

In regards to localizing (higher frequency) sound, elephants most likely use the same system all animals use, which is that there is a very small time delay between the arrival of the sound to each ear because they are different distances from the source. Some animals like barn owls also have their left/right ear openings offset so that they can triangulate (three dimensions) a sound source, typically a rodent, with near perfect accuracy in total darkness.

But….elephants also use another aspect of low frequency sound to “hear”, which has to do with the tendency of low frequency sound to vibrate solids and liquids (simply look at a large speaker diaphragm or a glass of water when bass notes are played and you’ll see them vibrate). Careful observation by field scientists combined with GPS tracking and directional technology sensitive to low frequency sound indicate elephants can “hear” through their feet, that is, sense low frequency ground vibrations of the “elephant frequency” – elephants do not have hard hooves like horses or buffalo, but large, skin covered pads on the bottom of their feet. It has also been observed that elephants tend to orient their bodies in the direction of their “foot hearing”, which may mean they are using the distance separating their front/back/left right feet like they, and other animals, use their left/right ears to discriminate the directional source of the sound.

I have seen what I believe to have been elephants “listening” to low frequency sounds more than once in Africa: the herd suddenly stopping what they are doing as a group, exactly as if they were listening to something (which I could not hear), but not lifting their trunks or looking in the same direction, or flaring their ears, which would suggest a smell/sight/higher frequency stimulus.

Below, anatomy of an elephant’s foot. Unlike horses or buffalo, elephants have a skin covered pad on the bottom of their foot, under which is a pad of fat and connective tissue that may help to amplify low frequency sound “heard” through their feet.elephantfoot

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Just Getting Started

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Written by Rory Young –

malawi3markerKeep watching this space… Forty four arrests in last twenty four hours! And fifty five in the last forty eight! That has to be some sort of record…

In the beautiful National Reserve where I am currently doing in ops training of Malawi DNPW rangers we are trying to make as big of an impact as possible, as quickly as possible and on as many illegal activities as possible.

The illegal activities range from elephant hunting to marijuana growing to timber harvesting.

The individuals undertaking these crimes are often linked to each other and are aggressive. For example, nearly all the poaching in the area is done with firearms and the weed growers have been shooting at anyone who comes near their isolated area for years.

Making so many arrests in such a short time without a single fatality or injury to either our officers or the criminals is something we are proud of. I do believe that if we had been shooting first and asking questions later that we would have dealt with only a fraction of this number and would have almost certainly sustained casualties.

We still have almost two weeks to go and intend to keep up the momentum. Again, watch this space…

This work is funded by Thank you to all those who donate to Chengeta.

The organizing is done by

The technical skills, doctrine and trainer are provided by

The picture shows a ranger returning from a successful ambush of an entry point. The poachers brazenly advertised the route to each other by the grass that can be seen tied to the tree. (We did thank them profusely for providing us with that information after we arrested them…)

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The Manual is Ready!!


We can now purchase an electronic (PDF) copy of the Anti-Poaching Manual! 50% of each sale will directly fund our training sessions.

Congratulations to Rory Young, Quora’s newest author!

Our partners at ALERT will be handling the book sales. Please follow the link to their page, given below. They have payment options listed on the bottom of the page.

Sponsor Anti-Poaching Unit Training – ALERT
At last!! The first manual dedicated to anti-poaching is now available.
Written by Rory Young and Yakov Alekseyev, not only does it lay out a desperately needed clear, comprehensive and thorough approach, but finally the ranger in the field has a complete guide to refer to; from investigations, to pursuit, to apprehension, to prosecution and everything in between.
50% of all proceeds from the sale of this book will go directly to fund anti-poaching unit training.

A Field Manual for Anti-Poaching Activities is the most comprehensive, intelligent and pragmatic doctrine ever devised to bring the practice of poaching under control. Further, this doctrine utilises existing local resources and personnel with objective and low-cost solutions.

It has been developed by Rory Young, a professional tracker of 25 years’ experience with security professionals with experience in investigations, special operations, law enforcement, and S.W.A.T. training doctrines. Their combined experience has created a doctrine capable of tackling poaching at the market, in transit and on the ground.

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Days of Their Lives

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February 18, 2014
We’ve pulled into a rest stop, probably one of only a few in the entire Ngorogoro Conservation Area. I saw a few large elephants on the way in, larger and closer than I’ve seen so far, so while the others are inside, I’m darting about the carpark, hoping to catch sight of the magnificent creatures.

And then I see them. Gray shapes slowly moving through a grove of trees, delicately feeding. It’s impossible to count how many there are as they wend their way through the vegetation–now you see them, now you don’t. I would guess about eight mothers and calves, but I never see all of them at one time, so it’s hard to say. For something so big they are very good at hiding.

They’re obviously a group. There is some dimension of communication happening that I can’t tune in on, but it doesn’t matter. They know what they are doing. They’ve been doing it for so long now.

The young ones sometimes do the adorable things that young elephants do; sometimes the mothers respond, sometimes they are ignored.

As I stand and watch, what I see before me seems almost like a staged drama, so graceful and precise are the movements of these huge animals as they feed. An elephant drama, played to an elephant script, in elephant time.

And then, slowly, they are gone. I can’t quite see where they went, but they are definitely not here any more.

On the way back to camp I wonder if I saw real animals, or was it just ghosts?

Let’s make this the play that never ends. Contribute to:
Terrorists Are Targeting Africa’s Elephants

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Killed For Keratin

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A KWS ranger was Monday night shot dead by suspected poachers after an exchange of fierce fire as the latter tried to forcefully gain entry into Ol-Jogi ranch in a rhino hunting mission.

Rhino Poaching

The 25-year-old Paul Harrison Lelesepei was in company of other rangers guarding the rhino sanctuary when they were attacked by the poachers.

Confirming the incident, KWS senior warden in charge of Mt. Kenya region, Aggrey Maumo, said that the rangers were patrolling the ranch along the borderline adjacent to the Lol-daiga hills when they were ambushed by the poachers.

Maumo said that a gun fight ensued and it was then that the ranger was caught in the crossfire; he later succumbed to the bullet wound as he was being rushed to the Nanyuki Teaching and Referral Hospital.

The body was taken to Nanyuki hospital mortuary.

He noted that on the fateful night there were two groups of poachers in the region, one group had already gained access into the ranch while the other was still outside, the rangers, without the knowledge of another group inside, opened fire to the group outside, with both groups returning fire, thus sandwiching the rangers.

However, the rangers still managed to overwhelm the antagonists, who beat a hasty retreat; no arrest have been made so far though there are some potential leads that could lead to the arrest of the notorious gang.

Maumo further said that all rhino sanctuaries in Laikipia have become a target for poachers, with Ol-Jogi being the worst hit, already having five rhinos killed in the past six months.

Last week, KWS wildlife conservation deputy director, Robert Njue, noted that rhino poaching will be countered using all security arsenal available and urged the public to volunteer intelligence report that can lead to arrest of poachers.

Njue said that they have deployed rangers to all sanctuaries in the region to counter poaching activities, adding that the fight against poaching also includes all security personnel; including police, Kenya policereservists and community rangers.

Link Page on

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The Dawn of the Tusk

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Neha Jha

I first met an Elephant when I was a young kid..
it was tied to chains.. near a pond..
I fed it leaves as it looked at me…
I still remember its eyes.

What makes an Elephant so special?

The scientists have compared the emotional intelligence of an Elephant to a child. They grieve for the loss of their loved ones just as we humans do.

It is saddening that for our ridiculous superficial wants we are on the verge of wiping off a majestic creature from the planet.

Is anybody doing anything?

How do they do it:

Rory Young has formed an alliance with Jacob Alekseyev, an American living in Zambia. Alekseyev is a former Major and Federal Agent of the US Air Force, Office of Special Investigations. Together they have worked out a plan of action to stop poaching in the Zambezi River Valley.


Website :

Terrorists are equipping poachers with state of the art weaponry. So, everyday is a struggle for men who are trying to save an elephant from being hunted down.

There are hundreds of people like me all over the globe that have lent a helping hand and have associated to raise a voice for the cause. Let’s not underestimate the power of a collective.
The Elephant crisis demands a global movement!

It is okay to look away but stupid to believe that they are a concern of only a particular nation and people.

Let’s spread the word.


Concept and Copy: Neha Jha
Editing and Design: Gaurav Joshi

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