Elephants Know Who to Trust

By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser User
Posted Oct 21, 2007 7:21 AM CDT
Nosing around.   ((c) aj82)
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(Newser) – Elephants apparently never forget a smell or clothing, at least when it comes to spotting their human hunters, researchers have discovered. Pachyderms in a study remained calm near members of an African community who had not harmed them, but instantly shied from those in a tribe who hunted them. It's believed to be the first time wild animals have revealed an ability to distinguish among different groups of a species based on the threats they pose, scientists said.

Researchers determined that the elephants based their actions on different body scents as well as distinguishing between trademark colors worn by the different groups, according to the study in Current Biology. The findings may help scientists devise ways to ease increasing conflicts between villagers and elephants, who are being squeezed out of habitats and have attacked communities.