Researchers study YouTube videos to learn more about how wild elephants react to death

Royal Society Open Science (2022). DOI: 10.1098/rsos.211740″ width=”800″ height=”434″/>

Dead calf transported by adult female wild Asian elephants (n=5 cases out of 25 total cases) and African elephants. These stills were taken from (a) Video 1 (Channel: monismukhtar1), (b) Video 21 (Channel: ETV Bharat English; Case #11), (c) Video 28 (Channel: Buzz news; case #16), (d) Video 35 (channel: Lanka Wild Safari; case #22) and (e) Video 40 (non-YouTube data: from co-author RS, data archive; case #25; se refer to Electronic Supplementary Material, Table S1, for details). For comparative documentation, we provide a still image (f) from a 44 s video of an African elephant holding a dead calf by its tusk and trunk in Lake Manyara National Park, Tanzania (source of clip: Fay Amon, August 29, 2021; Facebook; https://fb.watch/aMDA94fK_z/). Credit: Royal Society Open Science (2022). DOI: 10.1098/rsos.211740

A team of researchers from the Indian Institute of Science analyzed YouTube videos captured by amateur elephant enthusiasts to learn more about how the animals react when one of their herd members dies. Their article is published in the journal Royal Society Open Science.

Previous evidence has shown that some creatures other than humans, such as apes and dolphins, react to the death of a member of their group, particularly mothers to the death of their offspring. In this new effort, the researchers noted that little research has been done to learn more about how elephants react when one of their own dies. They noted that capturing video evidence of elephants reacting to death is difficult due to their rarity. Researchers can’t just venture out into the wild and track elephants until one dies due to time constraints. Instead, the researchers guessed that others witnessed such occurrences by accident and many of them may have recorded the action using their smartphones and posted it on social media. social media, specifically on YouTube.

To find out if this was the case, the researchers conducted a large number of searches on YouTube using terms such as “elephant death”. They found 24 videos showing elephants reacting to the death of one of their herd members, usually very young.

The researchers found that the most common reaction was to touch the corpse. They also observed sniffling. Touch was usually limited to the face or ears. Researchers noted that members of a group of elephants also produced different types of noise in response to a death, and some tried to animate the dead creature.

Researchers suggest that elephants not only notice when one of their limbs dies, but actively mourn them, especially mothers for their deceased offspring. In five of these cases, mothers were seen carrying their dead calf for several days after it died.


No rest for new elephant moms


More information:
Sanjeeta Sharma Pokharel et al, Seeing the rare through public lenses: insights into dead calf carriage and other thanatological responses in Asian elephants using YouTube videos, Royal Society Open Science (2022). DOI: 10.1098/rsos.211740

© 2022 Science X Network

Quote: Researchers study YouTube videos to learn more about how wild elephants react to death (2022, May 19) Retrieved May 20, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-05-youtube- videos-wild-elephants-react. html

This document is subject to copyright. Except for fair use for purposes of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without written permission. The content is provided for information only.

Shirley K. Rosa