Elephants are able to differentiate between ethnicities and genders, and can tell an adult from a child - all
from the sound of a human voice.This is according to a study in which researchers played voice recordings to wild African elephants.
According to Prof McComb who led the study, "If you give a Masai man a lift in your car, you can see the
elephants behave in a different way around you. "They're much more wary of the car and you see a lot of smelling and listening."
Prof McComb wanted to find out if the animals used their very acute sense of hearing to identify a potential threat from humans.The scientists recorded Masai and then Kamba (agriculturalists) men, women and children saying, in their own language, "look, look over there, a group of elephants is coming".
When the team played recordings of these different voices through a camouflaged loudspeaker, they found that elephant family groups reacted more fearfully in response to the voice of a Masai man, than to a Kamba man's voice - retreating and bunching together defensively.And the adult male Masai voices triggered far more of these defensive reactions than the voices of women or boys.