Understanding heat dissipation in African elephants (Loxodonta Africana) for contribution to the improvement of their conservation

Moise Koffi, Assistant Professor, Mathematics
& coDirector STEP/CSTEP


The objective of this research project is to investigate heat dissipation in African elephants (Loxodonta Africana). Due to their large body mass and their lack of sweat glands, elephants’ metabolic heat regulation has been disputed for several decades. It is hypothesized that the flapping of their pinnae plays a key role in heat dissipation. Understanding the thermodynamics behind such behavior will shed light in the improvement of elephants’ conservation procedures leading to a long term survival of these animals in their artificial habitats.

The CCRG –MURG (Community College Research Grant – Mentored Undergraduate Research Grant) grant will allow to perform detailed investigations on the impact of the oscillatory motion of elephants’ pinnae on their body temperature regulation. Preliminary results obtained using flow visualization techniques and computational fluid dynamics simulations indicate large vortical structures in the vicinity of flapping elephants’ pinnae. This study is conducted to further examine experimentally with infrared thermal imaging the impact of the elephants’ flapping pinnae on their body heat dissipation. The ultimate goal of the current research is the development of a correlation equation for elephants’ pinnae oscillatory motion for innovations in the management and conservation of this species.

Dr. Moise Koffi is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mathematics at Hostos Community College. He is the author of several publications in the field of heat transfer and computational fluid dynamics and has been invited to speak at many seminars and scientific conferences. His primary research focuses on the analysis of the flow and the thermal characteristics induced by rotationally oscillating heated surfaces and their applications.



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