Where Are You? I’m Here!

 By Michael Pardo, Cornell University & Open University of Sri Lanka

From left to right: [802], [802]’s four-year old calf, and a sub-adult female resting (this was before they moved to join Tulita under the maila tree)

Tulita, [802], [802]’s calf, and a sub-adult female stood nearly motionless under the low-hanging canopy of the maila tree.  Their heads drooped low and their trunks rested on the ground as they huddled together in the shade, seeking respite from the blazing noonday sun.  The only movement was the occasional swish of a tail, in an attempt to swat away some pesky insect.  A group of jabbering tourists pulled up in a small caravan of jeeps, but the elephants paid them no heed. Suddenly, two low growls echoed across the road over the noise of the human onlookers—deep, rumbling sounds like the purring of a truck-sized cat.  They were followed by two roar-rumbles, more urgent-sounding vocalizations where a loud bellow precedes the softer rumbling component.  One more call emanated from the tall undergrowth before the sub-adult female finally answered it.  Her response was immediately answered in turn, initiating a brief exchange of vocalizations between the unseen elephant and the sub-adult under the maila tree.  As I scanned the shrubs expectantly, they soon parted, revealing the dust-covered forehead of a small female elephant.  The newcomer stepped fully out of the thorny vegetation, displaying ears with a noticeable flap in front and a long, narrow lobe.  It was Continue reading