researchers who followed fourteen different elephant herds in western namibia for seven years have concluded that the animals have the ability to sense thunderstorms up to 186 miles away — most likely from rain system generated infrasound — and can predict approaching rain up to twelve days before it occurs.
western namibia is a vast expanse of land with a protracted dry season, and different herds in disparate locations, which desperately need the water and the vegetation that comes with it, will simultaneously change their migratory path, and pace, to head towards rain that is pending or falling great distances away.
this discovery could have major implications for conservation efforts, helping wildlife officials to better predict the location and movement of elephant herds sought by poachers. more than 100 thousand african elephants were killed for their ivory between 2010 and 2012, and with many experts estimating there to be no more than 400 thousand left, the animal could be extinct within the decade.
photos by (click pic) paul goldstein, mike nichols, michel denis-huot and beverly joubert in masai mara. study published in PLoS ONE