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"We don’t know if they can actually hear the thunder or if they are detecting other low-frequency sounds generated by the storms that humans can’t hear. But there is no doubt they know what direction the rain is," said Oliver Frauenfeld, assistant professor in the geography department at Texas A&M, in a statement.
The Namibia region has a short, distinct rainy season, lasting only a few weeks. Luckily, it seems, for the elephants, they are able to get some inside information on where all of that cool, life-sustaining water will be.
While the researchers aren't yet certain what specifically sets off the elephants' keen weather-sense, one side benefit is clear: If wildlife officials tasked with protecting elephants from poachers can use weather data to make predictions about where elephants will go, they have a better chance of protecting the herds.