A Tribute to Elephants
The Ivoryton Library sponsored "A Tribute to Elephants" as part of a series of lectures and programs illustrating the history of the ivory trade in Ivoryton and Deep River. The key speaker in this tribute was Katy Payne, an important scientist and author. In l984 she visited elephants at the Washington Park Zoo in Portland, Oregon. She had been studying whale songs as a communication for years. On her return trip from the zoo she realized she had felt, in the presence of elephants, a deep throbbing and fluttering in the air. This reminded her of a childhood experience she'd had singing in the church choir. She realized that the throbbing in the air was just like the lowest notes of the church organ. In a brilliant, non-linear leap of imagination, Katy Payne realized that the elephants might be using infrasound to communicate. She returned with a tape recorder and, by playing back the vibration at high speed, heard the sounds that exchanged between these huge mammals--extensive, animated conversation just below the range of human hearing.
Her research took her to Africa where she lived and worked among elephants and native peoples. In her book, Silent Thunder, she describes the elephants she came to know best. Portraying the elephants as members of a vast society bound together by long distance communication, she shared with us their sounds of communicating.
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For information on elephant conservation efforts in the United States, please contact;
The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee
The Center for Elephant Conservation