South African university student, Chloe Caister, has shared a video of a herd of elephants as part of her Master’s project on personality in elephants.
Her research aims to establish the science behind determining whether or not elephants have personalities. She made the video to help her observe their behavior so she could record her conclusions using certain protocols.
She makes her observations based on their reactions to “novelty stimuli” and gathers information on the variations in their responses. These observations have helped Chloe create personality profiles for the elephants.
In this video, the group had planted stuffed teddy bears and elephants out in the bush for the elephants to discover while they were foraging for food.
An elephant called Somopane was known to be the peacekeeper within the herd but showed that he was not afraid to be confrontational with these teddy bears by tossing them out of the herd’s vicinity.
The other elephants were similarly cautious when they first saw the stuffed toys but gradually warmed up to them at their own pace, eventually picking them up to examine them and even trying to eat them.
Chloe says, “My project aims at studying the behavior of the Jabulani Herd, specifically them due to their unique set-up as rescued elephants. Through various behavioral experiments, we can determine their personality types and how these affect the interpersonal dynamics within the herd.”