London, Aug 15 (ANI): One wouldn't expect the biggest mammal on land to be afraid of anything - but it is. It is afraid of humans.
In fact, elephants are more scared of humans than they are of dynamite, as a new study of how forest elephants deal with oil exploration in central Africa, suggests.
Peter Wrege and colleagues at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, used listening devices to monitor the sounds and seismic activity of oil prospecting in the Loango National Park in Gabon.
The team analysed how dynamite blasts and other human activity affected the number of elephant calls.
Elephants are active both during the day and at night. But those closest to the activity became increasingly nocturnal. On the other hand, elephants close to the oil prospecting areas did not flee.
"Dynamite might sound like intense thunder," New Scientist quoted Wrege as saying.
So, although the blasts seem harmless, elephants in the region have long been hunted by humans.
The behavioural changes could have caused extra stress and competition for food, since the elephants had less time to go about their daily activities, he says.
The study is published in Conservation Biology. (ANI)