InaudibleCurrent, Digital, Research and Development
Photography by Suprayudi SOCP Indonesia.
“Humans are quite possibly the last creatures on earth to sense the coming of rain”
Elephants can sense a storm 150 miles away, what can they sense that we can’t and what can this tell us about how they live and how they are living in a shifting environment where human impact is changing the shape of everything. Through this project we aim to highlight the hidden, magical and often unseen elements of nature and how quickly it is shifting under our influence.
Inaudible is a research project in collaboration with LEAP (Landscape, Ecology and Primatology) based at Bournemouth University. Human elephant conflict is a huge issue causing extinction of species across the globe. Together we are exploring the capture and analysis of infrasound communication and migration patterns of some of the last Asian elephants in North Sumatra.
This project addresses the complicated interaction between the last remaining Sumatran Elephants of the Leuser Ecosystem and the rural communities with whom they are increasingly entering into conflict. As an island dwelling species sharing an ever decreasing habitat these elephants are particularly vulnerable. Illegal deforestation driven by the palm oil industry is rapidly and violently reducing the space they have to roam and forcing them into conflict with villagers, both destroying crops and endangering lives and also finding themselves at the mercy of revenge killings and increasingly negative perception. Elephants can easily destroy a subsistence farmer’s entire crop and the complicated and unexpected way in which they co-exist adds to the fear, frustration and anger that local communities feel. This is further layered with the mass scale industrial farming happening in the region. Elephants are being killed faster than they are born.
Working with local communities we will co design monitoring systems that build greater empathy and understanding between farmers and elephants, allowing people to better understand the effects of their activity and predict the elephant’s reactions. Built from historical data, satellite imagery, field monitoring, ethnographic data sets, and infra sound technology that listens to the imperceptible sounds the elephants use to communicate the system will create a complex and holistic understanding of how humans and elephants share this ecosystem, helping reduce tension and fear between humans and elephants.