We have the pleasure of watching elephants in broad daylight in precious few places like Udawalawe, where they are habituated enough to be placid and tolerant of onlookers. Indeed, one can get rather spoiled in this particular Park, because even the birds are unafraid and will happily sit and pose for your clumsy photograph from inches away. At times, certain exhibitionist pachyderms even appear to put on a show for the gawking crowds:
But all is not paradise. Continue reading
Some colleagues at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science have started a series featuring conversations by female scientists called Skirts in Science. The goal is to make women in science more visible to students, especially young women and girls.
I had a lot of fun in this chat with Sarah Benson-Amram, now faculty at the University of Wyoming. Here is a brief window into our work:
Many thanks to Paula Cushing, Kimberly Evans, and Marta Lindsay for inviting us to be part of this great series. Check out their channel here.
Part 2 will have a discussion of how we came to do what we do. Stay tuned!
16 June 2014 – S. de Silva
A clear sunny day, Lucy and Mickey are off in the park with Sameera while Kumara and I stay behind to catch up on office work. It’s mid-morning when Sameera calls to tell us Walawe Kota is back! Walawe Kota is the nickname we’ve given the dwarf elephant of Uda Walawe. This would be at least the third year now. What’s more, he’s in musth and reportedly fighting another male. At first, the news is a bit confusing – there’s mention of a possible injury.
I’ve never seen him in the flesh though Kumara and Sameera have. I’ve only seen pictures and video clips, so I’m eager to try our luck. The park office reports he’s been spotted not far from the entrance, so we hop in our Jeep and dash off in hopes he’s still out in the open. Continue reading
Join us for a live event December 21st 2013, at the Randall Museum in San Francisco:
In September, Vivek Thuppil and Dr. Richard G. Coss from UC Davis published a paper in the journal Biology Letters regarding wild Asian elephant behavior towards pre-recorded tiger and leopard growls while attempting to crop raid. They found out that elephants silently retreat from tiger growls, but aggressively vocalize their presence when confronted with leopard recordings. According to previous research, tigers tend to prey on elephant calves while leopards are essentially harmless. This study is the first to investigate the inner-workings of elephant antipredator behavior at night.
Direction in which elephants emerge from the forest to trigger playback (courtesy of Vivek Thuppil)