National Geographic : 2014 Dec
PHOTO: NICK BRANDT where culling didn’t occur. They played recorded calls from elephants familiar and unfamiliar to each, and of various ages. The Amboseli elephants responded as expected: attentively bunched when they perceived high-level threats but relaxed when the calls signaled low-level threats. Pilanesberg elephants responded abnormally, showing no clear connection between threat level and reaction. The behavioral ecologists attribute the abnormal responses to both the initial trauma and the loss of role models that culling caused. “Fundamental aspects of the elephant’s complex social behavior may be significantly altered in the long term,” their study says. And because elephants transfer knowledge, this abnor- mal behavior could be passed down for generations. —Lindsay N. Smith Elephants cross a lake bed in Kenya’s Amboseli National Park, where family groups were not subjected to culling.