Field of Science

Text messages for elephants

It has been widely noted that even in areas too remote or poor to have regular telephone service, cell phones and text messaging are ubiquitous. Now, even elephants send text messages.

Modern conservation
As reported by the New York Times
, a protected elephant has been fitted with a collar that sends a text message whenever the elephant nears local farms. This was done after several elephants on a local reservation had to be shot to protect the area farmers. Now, when the elephant wanders from its range, rangers arrive to scare it back.

The article is worth reading in its entirety. It's great that a smart method has been found to help wild animals and human civilization coexist.

What struck me, though, was the note that elephants learn from one another, and deterring one elephant from raiding farms can help stop other elephants as well. If anybody knows more about this, I'd be very interested in hearing what is known about elephant social learning.

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