Elephants learn to avoid landmines in war-torn Angola
Elephants who have encountered landmines learn to avoid them based on their smell and alert the rest of the herd via gestures or low-frequency grumble.
Angola's civil war took a devastating toll on the elephants there. Many were hunted for food and ivory. Once hostilities ended in 2002, elephants still found themselves in a dangerous territory due to the massive amount of landmine contamination.
In the past few years, however, "The landmine-death rate has fallen even as the elephant population has increased in Angola's most heavily mined province," according to The Economist.
And it's all thanks to their trunks. Elephants have one of the most sophisticated senses of smell in the world. It's about 14 times better than that a dog's which is itself about 2,000 times better than that of a human.
Their keen detection abilities have—not unsurprisingly—caught the attention of the U.S. Army Research Office which has been conducting studies on the phenomenon.
The Army has no plans to take elephants into the field but is reportedly exploring bomb-detection technology based on the mechanics of an elephanttrunk.
See photos of a mother elephant and baby's heartfelt reunion after being apart for years: