According to media reports elephants are now being trained in South Africa, using the art of Bio-detection to find out if they are able to use their exceptional strong senses in smelling to sniff out the following:
This initiative is supported by the US army research office and the project seems promising. A recent test run was conducted and the 17 year old elephant called, Chishuru walked past a row of buckets and a TNT scent, was placed underneath of one of these buckets. The elephant placed his trunk in each of the buckets. The elephant lifted its leg when it came across the swab and this test was performed continuously and the elephant passed each test.
Like a dog sniffer, the elephant was rewarded with a healthy treat, an marula fruit, elephants favourites. According to the operator of Adventures with Elephants Sean Hensman, the game reserve 180km northwest of Johannesburg where the training has been conducted, says an elephant’s nose is amazing. Think about mammoths, which had to find food through the ice.
He adds that the project has a number of roots. Elephants in Angola, which suffered decades of civil war, have been observed avoiding heavily-mined areas, suggesting their trunks were warning them to stay away. US army researchers, who have been convoluted in the project for five years, say unlike in Hannibal’s day, elephants will not be in the theatre of combat.
Chief scientist of the US army research office Stephan says we could bring scents from the field collected by unmanned robotic systems to the elephants for evaluation and who has a better nose than a dog and elephant. The researching of this amazing breakthrough is still being thoroughly tested.
Researchers also adds that, “dogs require constant training while the elephants seem to understand and remember the scent without the need for constant training.”
Is this something that could be considered on game reserves to train elephants to possibly send out warnings or adjust their senses to flee when they detect poachers?
Did you know? Elephant Facts!
The trunk houses a keen sense of smell, which is said to be more developed than any other land animal. A damaged trunk is a death sentence to an elephant. The trunk is highly sensitive and they are very careful to protect them, sleeping with trunks tucked up under their chins and will adopt the same position when threatened.