Wild Elephants Possibly Have Names: NPR

Do Elephants Have Names?

Do Elephants Have Names?

The Study

An adult elephant in Kenya, known as “Desert Rose,” may have her own elephant name according to a recent study. Wild elephants communicate with each other through rumbling sounds that researchers believe could be akin to individual names. This idea was inspired by previous research on bottlenose dolphins, who use signature whistles to address each other.

Research Method

The study aimed to determine if elephants have names that they use to call each other. Unlike human-assigned names like Margaret and Marie, these names would be unique to the elephants themselves. Researchers analyzed recordings of 469 rumbling calls made by wild African elephants in Kenya between 1986 and 2022.


The analysis found that a computer model could correctly identify the recipient of a call 27.5% of the time based on the rumbling sounds. When playing recordings of these rumblings to elephants in the wild, the animals responded more strongly to calls that were originally addressed to them, indicating a form of recognition akin to having a name.


Researchers believe that elephants may use unique labels or names to communicate with each other, a behavior observed in intelligent and social animals like humans, dolphins, and parrots. However, the exact nature of these names and how they are used in elephant communication remains a subject of further study.

Read More of this Story at www.npr.org – 2024-06-11 12:57:05

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