Sept. 27, 2020

Choosing a Field Site for Forest Elephant Research

Choosing a Field Site for Forest Elephant Research

Welcome back to this series on how I set up my forest elephant research and what it was like to study them. 

In the last episode, I take you through the process of how and why I decided to study African forest elephants, and how I came up with the research questions I would ask for my dissertation research. At this point of my Ph.D., I knew what I was going to study and now I had to find where I would conduct that research. Where would I go in all of central and west Africa to study forest elephants?

Despite the huge range of forest elephants, there aren’t that many places actually where you can easily study them. I had to find a park either with large bais, natural, open clearings in the forest or savanna habitats. Although forest elephants live in forested areas, there are some forest parks that have savanna remnants. 

In this episode, I share with you my adventures in choosing a field site and how I ultimately decided which one to work at. 

In the summer of 2007, I took a trip with my advisor to scope out three different protected areas in the Republic of Congo and Gabon: Odzala, Ivindo, and Lopé National Parks. You’ll hear about the adventures I had, the animals we saw along the way, and of course the elephants. 

Specifically, I go over:

  • What it was like to travel in the Republic of Congo and Gabon (one field site required days of travel involving dug-out canoe-like boats and a a flight I wasn’t too sure about
  • What field sites look like in Central Africa – where did we stay and how it compared to other field sites I’ve visited
  • Different animals that we saw along the way – gorillas, African grey parrots, and more!
  • How I compared and assessed the field sites for my research
  • and MORE!

For show notes and photos of all of the field sites, click here:

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