It’s true — elephants never forget. And that may mean the difference between life and death for herds coping with climate change.

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That is one of the findings of a recent study by the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society and the Zoological Society of London, which suggests that old females may have long memories of distant sources of food and water.

This wisdom or memory can give a herd or family group an edge if confronted with drought or other kind of scarcity.

Understanding how elephants and other animal populations react to droughts will be a central component of wildlife management and conservation,” said Wildlife Conservation Society researcher Dr. Charles Foley, lead author of the study.

Our findings seem to support the hypothesis that older females with knowledge of distant resources become crucial to the survival of herds during periods of extreme climatic events.”