This is the fifth episode in a series all about how I actually studied elephants. For my Ph.D., I studied the social structure and genetic patterns of African forest elephants in Gabon. Here I follow up on aggressive elephants in the park, fun field stories, extracting and amplifying elephant DNA, and how to conserve elephants.
It may be a good idea to catch up with episodes #24-27 so you can fully understand what my field research and seasons were like:
#24 How Do You Study Elephants? The Start of My Journey
#25 Choosing a Field Site for Forest Elephant Research, and
#26 First Field Season with Forest Elephants
#27. Charging Elephants and Fresh Dung: Challenges from the Field
In this episode, I follow up on my experiences with aggressive elephants during my field work and hypothesize why what happened to me happened.
This episode is focused on my second field season and in addition to the close elephant encounters, I had another close encounter with an animal (actually lots and lots of them) that you can’t see in many places in Africa. It was one of the coolest experiences I’ve had in my whole life!
I also talk about my research after my field season – what it was like to work with the elephant dung samples back in the lab, what I did with them, and did they work? As always with science, things don’t go exactly as they planned.
Finally, I cannot talk about elephants without talking about their current plight – that they are at risk of extinction, especially forest elephants. The problem is surprisingly massive and if we don’t work hard now, we could lose this species. We’ve already lost a lot of forest elephant range and individuals.
Specifically, I go over:
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