"The elephants undergo these sudden migrations that previously have not been explained," Texas A&M professor Oliver Frauenfeld, who co-authored the study, told Popular Science. "They need the rain. After a prolonged dry season, once the elephants hear the rain, they start moving towards it, and it allows them to get the water sooner."
The researchers think that the uncanny meteorological abilities stem from their extraordinary hearing. We've long known that elephants communicate using extremely low frequency sounds, known as "infrasounds," that are well below the human range of hearing. It's entirely possible that the storms send out sound waves that the elephants can also hear and respond to.
The hope is that this new insight into elephant movements will help conservationists come up with strategies to keep the beautiful creatures away from poachers. Because by the time anyone hears a gunshot, it's too late. [PLOS ONE via PopSci]
source: gizmodo.com by Adam Clark Estes