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Elephants can have complex societies

source: Liz Else
New Scientist vol 210 no 2814 May 28 2011 starts p 28, 2 pages long

Elephants are social animals which can have complex societies, according to Cynthia Moss, head of the Amboselli Elephant Research Project in Kenya. The project has tracked more than 2,500 elephants, and found that elephant societies can both split and merge, according to environmental conditions. Elephants are capable of co-operation and grieve for their dead. Hunters tend to focus on older elephants, but it is older males who breed, and older females are more experienced, so better able to cope with dangers posed by lions. Elephants have a strong sense of smell, and appear to have empathy. More research is needed in these areas. Meanwhile, poaching for ivory is a serious threat to elephants.