Study suggests elephants are capable of reaching far-off food by blowing air with their long trunks

Study suggests elephants are capable of reaching far-off food by blowing air with their long trunks

In a study published by Japanese scientists from Kyoto University and the Graduate University for Advanced Studies (SOKENDAI) in the journal Animal Cognition, they have suggested that elephants can reach far-off food by blowing air using their long trunks.

Till this extent, the air blown through their trunks is relative to how far food is. This has indicated that elephants have cognitive skills of using air as tools, even as they get more knowledge about their environments.

They studied a group of Asian elephants at the Kamine zoo in Japan. Two female elephant captive at the zoo, Mineko and Suzuko, were the main studied ones.

Some years back, Charles Darwin noticed that elephants can manipulate their breath to reach food, but this could not be practically done in a natural setting, till the Japanese scientists could do something regarding it.

They plotted a grid within a ditch at the mini zoo, placing foods like apple, hay, potatoes, bamboo, and fallen leaves in different points of the enclosure. With the help of video technology that was mounted over 32 days, the researchers managed to watch the animals as they blew air for shifting the position of the desired food closer to where their trunk would reach.

They succeed in analyzing the frequency and duration of blowing, the position and shape of the trunks of the elephants, and their triumph and skill by tracking food movement food across the grid. On an average, the animals blew three times to reach their food, and it was easily notable that they would not blow air for near and reachable food.

Lead author Kaori Mizuno said, “By blowing air through their trunks to obtain inaccessible food, the elephants appear to exhibit an advanced understanding of their physical environment”.

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