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Re: Ain't No Mountain Low Enough [elephants don't like steep terrain]

Quoting Dominic Nardi <freedom4@mac.com>:

As for elephants, I have to say I don't think this is the final story. The article only deals with African elephants. I know from experience riding many elephants in Southeast Asia (including one ride that lasted 2 days!) that Asian elephants can be extraordinary climbers (we went up at least one hill far steeper slopes than 43 degrees). The elephants may have done this only because the mahouts ordered them to, but I was impressed with how well they did climb.

Yes - they're remarkably agile animals for their size. The study in question mentioned that preferential avoidance of steep slopes may not just be over concerns of slipping and falling. To quote:

"It's over 2500% more costly to move a vertical meter than a horizontal meter if you're an elephant," he says. Climbing an extra 100 meters would require an elephant to add another half hour of foraging to its daily dietary regime just to keep from losing weight, the team reports 25 July in Current Biology.

So perhaps slope avoidance was related to the harshness of the environments in which those particular elephants lived. Traversing steeper slopes may have burned more calories than foraging those slopes would have provided.


Dann Pigdon
GIS / Archaeologist         http://heretichides.soffiles.com
Melbourne, Australia        http://www.geocities.com/dannsdinosaurs