Elephant Acoustics Project | Updates

Greetings! This marks our inaugural update on Grove, and we eagerly anticipate engaging with the Grove community!

About us:

The Elephant Acoustics project endeavors to develop and deploy cutting-edge technology to monitor and comprehend elephant presence in an area, aiming to mitigate human-elephant conflicts. Annually, more than 500 humans and 100 elephants perish due to adverse interactions in India. According to forest department records from 2018, 68 humans and 60 wild elephants lost their lives in the state of Assam alone. Additionally, certain regions in Assam, such as the area between Kaziranga National Park and Karbi Anglong, endure a third of their annual paddy production loss to elephants. Our mission is to decrease human and elephant casualties in the region by employing effective prevention strategies to foster long-term coexistence between humans and threatened wildlife.

About the Collaboration:

Last year, the Elephant Acoustics Project forged a collaboration with the Rainmatter Foundation, aiming to develop acoustic-based deterrents and detection systems to effectively address human-elephant conflicts. This partnership embodies a holistic approach, aiming not only to develop technology but also to empower and support communities residing along the fringes of protected areas. The primary beneficiaries and custodians of this technology will be the local people themselves.


Framework Development:

This framework introduces an approach to mitigate such conflicts through the application of acoustic technology. By leveraging insights from animal acoustics, the proposed framework aims to develop a custom-built hardware and software system capable of real-time monitoring and early detection of wildlife activity, initially focusing on human-elephant conflict.

Specifically addressing human-elephant conflict, the framework integrates passive acoustic monitoring with machine-learning algorithms and community engagement strategies. The detection phase involves recording and classifying elephant vocalizations, and overcoming challenges such as background noise interference. Feature extraction and classification algorithms are then employed to identify key attributes of elephant vocalizations, such as gender, age class, and arousal level.

The output of the framework informs two distinct mitigation strategies: real-time alerts to local communities and officials, facilitating timely responses to potential conflict situations, and a deterrence system utilising playback sounds of aversive stimuli, such as bees and tigers.

The conclusion emphasizes the potential of acoustic technology in addressing human-wildlife conflict while acknowledging ongoing challenges and the importance of fostering coexistence. Understanding cultural attitudes towards wildlife and leveraging technology to promote tolerance are highlighted as crucial aspects of sustainable conflict mitigation.

Commencement of Fieldwork:

We will commence the first round of fieldwork next week, during which we intend to collect elephant vocalization data and conduct meetings with community members.

Attached herewith is a rumble spectrogram which is a graphic representation of sound frequencies over time, distinguished by its low frequency, less than 20 Hz below the threshold of human hearing, where only the second harmonics and above are perceptible. Increasing the playback speed causes a frequency shift, enabling the first harmonics or the pitch of the call itself to become audible.
You can listen to a few elephant calls here: https://www.elephantacousticsproject.com/asian-elephant-communication

Check out the energy concentrated at lower frequencies, often below the range of human hearing ( 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz), helping us to visualize elephant vocalizations.


Quite a touchy topic around here… where we live. Have lived with these gentle giants for 2 years in the mountains of Nilgiris… so from first hand experience, they are extremely sensitive to sound and odour which you would already know… so just curious if this tech doesn’t cause side effects to the Elephants on the longer run? as this would probably involve frequencies that they aren’t naturally comfortable with. The real time alerts are fantastic … just curious about the deterrence systems.

The deterrence system relies on the natural calls of predators like tigers within the landscape, or the buzzing calls of bees, which elephants find displeasing. No calls involving human intervention have been suggested for use in this system.

amazing, thanks for sharing. particularly liked the notes on behavioural observations when the calls were recorded!