Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.
Silent Thunder: In the Presence of Elephants
by Katy Payne
References to this work on external resources.
Wikipedia in English
Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0140285962, Paperback)Naturalist and bioacoustics researcher Katy Payne stood near an elephant cage at a zoo and felt a strange "throb and flutter" in the air. When she later realized that the feeling was very like that caused by the lowest notes of a pipe organ, she embarked on a journey of scientific and personal discovery that took her to Africa to study how the huge mammals communicate. For years, she lived close to the elephants she loved, getting to know individuals and describing their long-distance infrasound "conversations." After her fifth such expedition, one third of the elephant population she was studying was killed in a planned cull by the Zimbabwean government. Whether or not you accept Payne's hypothesis that elephants are extraordinarily intelligent and capable of communicating with each other and with other species (including humans), you will find her descriptions of the animals compelling and compassionate. Her grief at the loss of her elephant friends is palpable, and she uses it to utmost effect in decrying not only the ivory trade, but the way in which humans have decided to live on the planet. --Therese Littleton
(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:32 -0400)
Scientific discovery is not always the result of a careful accumulation of data or a measured consideration of the facts. Sometimes it takes a leap of imagination. The author, a naturalist and conservationist, took just such a leap and made an amazing discovery about how elephants communicate. And that was only the beginning of her adventure. In 1984, she visited the elephants at Washington Park Zoo in Portland, Oregon. She had been studying whale songs for the last fifteen years, and she was curious about the ways that elephants, the largest living land mammals, communicated with each other. What was observed in the first week seemed, at the time, to be little cause for scientific excitement. But on her flight home, she flashed back to a childhood experience of singing in the church choir. Suddenly she realized that she had felt, in the presence of the elephants, a deep throbbing in the air just like the lowest notes of the church organ. She and two colleagues were soon able to show that elephants use powerful infrasound, sound pitched too low for the human ear to hear, in communication. This "silent thunder" allows elephants to interact over long distances. This was the basis of the discovery of infrasonic communication among elephants. The author and her colleagues went on to do important field research on elephant communication in Kenya, Namibia, and Zimbabwe. But in 1991 the peaceful rhythms of their work were violently interrupted by a cull, a planned killing, that destroyed five of the elephant families they were studying. This destruction convinced her that all life is sacred, and she determined to challenge the philosophies that support culling. This work is a natural history rich in ponderings about the animal world and how humans participate in it. It is also a passionate story of the author's own spiritual quest as she turns an observant eye on her own role in this world and honors the holistic perspective of her indigenous friends, who became her teachers in Zimbabwe.
Is this you?
Become a LibraryThing Author.