Antoinette van de Water, founder of Bring the Elephant Home (BTEH)and Miami University Dragonfly alumna, invited members of the Future For Nature Academy (FFN Academy) community to help her with an elephant conservation project. Under supervision of Dr. Lucy King (Save the Elephants) and Dr. Kevin Matteson (Miami University), she is looking into methods to reduce human-elephant conflicts. Together with the Phuluang Wildlife Research Station, she collected camera trap data of elephants reacting to beehives in Thailand. The analysis of these videos can contribute to understanding the effect of the beehives on elephant and can give a possible solution to the human-elephant conflicts.
On the 15th of February 2019, more than forty enthusiastic conservationists-to-be came together to take on the task of analyzing the camera videos. Berrie Jurg, the chair of BTEH, was the first one to give everyone an idea of the work that the foundation does while showcasing many photographs of, among others, Antoinette’s adventures during this project. To ensure high quality of the analysis, Vera Praet, who has collaborated with Antoinette, was present as well to introduce everyone to the project and explain the methodology behind the analysis.
Armed with all the new information, the participants took to their laptops and started on the first videos. Though the analysis can be challenging, many were inspired to try their best at investigating the elephant behavior and will continue to do so until all the videos are analyzed. With the help of FFN Academy, Antoinette can hopefully publish a scientific scoop on this topic in the near future!
Note: At the time of writing, over 600 analyses have been performed already but the project runs till April 2019 and any student or professional affiliated with elephant research who is interested to help could sign up through: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfi_Qsgwyt3OOZzOkI71qHGL_tPmBovHlLX8k4KZ0dFlQ_oog/viewform?fbclid=IwAR2wLCDZk8cihoOHQZw4otMHd554uDjajlRKP9ZChTaiCyxB09Qs_tSGXYc
By Melanie Arp