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

Dr. Moise Koffi, Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering
Mathematics Department


The objective of this research project is to investigate heat dissipation in African elephants (Loxodonta Africana). This is a major application of the study of the flow and thermal characteristics induced by rotationally oscillating surfaces. It is hypothesized that the flapping of elephants’ pinnae plays a key role in heat dissipation. The Community College Research Grant (CCRG) will allow to extend this research, using infrared thermography to explore in which extent the flapping of the elephants’ pinnae can lead to their body temperature regulation.


Understanding the thermodynamics behind elephants’ behavior will shed light in the improvement of their conservation for long term survival of these animals in their artificial habitats. Preliminary results obtained using flow visualization techniques and computational fluid dynamics simulations indicate large vortical structures in the vicinity of flapping elephants’ pinnae. The current study is conducted to examine and track experimentally, using infrared thermal imaging techniques, the animal’s local surface temperature, during flapping cycles of their pinnae. The ultimate goal of the research is the development of a correlation equation for elephants’ pinnae oscillatory motion for innovative management procedures in the conservation of this species.


The CCRG grant will provide an educational platform for the training of an undergraduate engineering student to conduct scientific research, as described in The Undergraduate Research Mentoring Plan. The student will be engaged in hands-on activities and software training sessions, which will prepare him/her for the STEM workforce. In addition the software skills will empower the student in data analysis and interpretation leading to effective conference presentations and publications in scientific journals.



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