African elephants show extraordinary adaptation. They learned to move and feed at night, to hide better during the day and escape poachers in areas where they are particularly prevalent, reveals an investigation.
In 2016, an elephant named Morgan had allowed researchers to observe this behavior. Equipped with a GPS collar, he had undertaken to cross a very risky region. This solitary male had left the coastal region of southeastern Kenya to go to Somalia. To cross this very perilous area for elephants, he had adopted a strategy of survival by walking essentially at night and hiding among shrubs during the day.
To study the modification of this behavior, Save the Elephants scientists have established a ratio allowing to measure the activity of the animal at night compared to that of day. ” Our hypothesis is that poaching is clearly a diurnal risk ,” they explained in their survey published in Ecological Indicators.
The survey was conducted in two periods. First, from 2002 to 2009, where the level of poaching was moderate, and then from 2010 to 2012, where this level was high in northern Kenya.
Elephants are more active during the day and rest at night. Except that in recent years, researchers have found that elephants moved more at night than during the day, when the level of poaching was high. The researchers also point out that this behavior is more pronounced in females than males, because they are surrounded by elephant, they are often more cautious.
But the researchers believe that these changes can have an impact on elephant strategy for feeding, breeding and survival. Also, for elephants, the risk of being caught by lions or hyenas at night could be greater, says AFP Festus Ihwagi. ” For adult elephants, this implies an alteration in their social life and may have an impact on their sexual activity, ” he adds.
About 30,000 elephants are killed each year in Africa to feed the world ivory traffic.