Track and Test Asian Elephants

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Elephants out of a job? It might sound like a joke, but for critically endangered Asian elephants trained to work in logging camps, unemployment is a serious problem. Smithsonian scientists have launched a pilot program to test these pachyderms. In addition to tracking elephant movements using GPS collars, scientists will send a researcher to conduct behavioral and personality tests on some of the unemployed elephants.

This way, they can gauge whether the animals fear and avoid humans, as well as how they cope when faced with obstacles, such as gathering food. This cautious and thoughtful approach will save lives by giving researchers the best idea of whether these pachyderms are potential candidates for future release into the wild.

Janine Brown, Ph.D.

Janine Brown is a research physiologist and heads the endocrinology laboratory at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI). Brown is devoted to increasing knowledge that

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