Jan. 12 - Scientists trying to reduce conflict between humans and elephants is southern Africa and India are developing a warning system they hope will keep the species apart. The researchers believe their electronic alarm technology can provide enough warning for vulnerable villagers to stay inside as roaming pachyderms approach. Jim Drury reports.
UPSOT: PEOPLE SHOUTING Scenes like these are on the rise across India and southern Africa.... UPSOT: PEOPLE SHOUTING ....the result of human settlement expanding into historic elephant habitat. It's an increasingly dangerous - and often deadly - trend, but Vienna-based scientists Angela Stoeger and Matthias Zeppelzauer believe they have a solution. They are devising an early warning system for humans at risk of attack by approaching herds, miles away. UPSOT: ELEPHANT RUMBLE SOUNDBITE (English) ANGELA STOEGER (PRON: SCHTOO-GER), BIOLOGIST AT UNIVERSITY OF VIENNA, SAYING: "Elephants produce a variety of different call types. The most common call type is the low frequency rumble." Biologist Stoeger recorded captive African elephants in South Africa, using an acoustic camera. Zeppelzauer wants to marry that technology with his audio enhancement software. SOUNDBITE (English) MATTHIAS ZEPPELZAUER (PRON: MER-TEE-US ZEPPEL-ZOWER), COMPUTER SCIENTIST AT VIENNA UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY, SAYING: "The slide behind me shows the typical elephant rumble. We can see that this rumble consists of horizontally running frequency tracks; we have the fundamental frequency here, and we have several harmonics above that. And what we try to do is to enhance these frequency tracks by doing a structural analysis of this rumble." UPSOT: ELEPHANT RUMBLE Their conceptual device would estimate the size, gender, and age of approaching herds. Females with infants pose little threat..but young male groups can be extremely dangerous. UPSOT: PEOPLE SCREAMING SOUNDBITE (English) ANGELA STOEGER (PRON: SCHTOO-GER), BIOLOGIST AT UNIVERSITY OF VIENNA, SAYING: "This monitoring system should tell whether it's a female group with infants approaching or whether it's a bachelor group of young males. We can basically tell that based on pitch, based on the fundamental frequency, because these low frequency rumbles are produced via vocal fold vibration and the mass of the vocal folds determines the pitch." Within three years the pair say a warning device could be ready for use...bringing a measure of security for both species.