Elephants use names to call each other, reveals new study

Pachyderm specie also "recognise and react to a call addressed to them", as per researchers

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An image of an elephant family. — Unsplash/File

Elephants make calls to each other by using individual names that they come up with for their fellow pachyderms, as per a study on Monday.

By mimicking the sound of others from their species, dolphins and parrots have already been observed addressing each other. However, as per the researchers, elephants are the first non-human animals, which are known to use names that do not involve imitation.

To analyse the calls of two wild herds of African savannah elephants in Kenya, an artificial intelligence was used by a team of international researchers for the new study.

The research "not only shows that elephants use specific vocalisations for each individual, but that they recognise and react to a call addressed to them while ignoring those addressed to others", lead study author Michael Pardo said, reported AFP.

"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," the behavioural ecologist at Colorado State University said in a statement.

Recorded at Kenya's Samburu National Reserve and Amboseli National Park between 1986 and 2022, the researchers sifted through elephant “rumbles”.

Using a machine learning algorithm, They identified 469 distinct calls with the help of a machine learning algorithm. This included 101 elephants issuing a call and 117 receiving one.

From loud trumpeting to rumbles so low that they cannot be heard by the human ear, elephants make a wide range of sounds.

Notably, names were not always used in the elephant calls. They were called out often over a long distance, and also when adults were addressing young elephants.