Visiting Intern Blog: October 27, 2016
My name is Zachary Dvornicky-Raymond; I am a member of the Class of 2019 at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. This summer, I had the absolute pleasure of working alongside the researchers at Elephants Alive. I was introduced to this organization through a colleague of mine, and I decided to reach out due to an interest in the amazing work being done by EA.
Although my stay was short, the EA team immediately took me in as one of their own and opened my eyes to the incredible work that is being done with elephant conservation in the Greater Kruger area. As a future veterinarian with an interest in conservation medicine, this experience served as the perfect opportunity to enter the field with the team, assist them with their projects, and gain insight into the world of elephant conservation.
Wildlife conservation is a complex field that calls upon veterinarians, together in pursuit of the common goal of understanding, conserving, and coexisting with the natural world. My experience with Elephants Alive was the perfect introduction to this cooperative effort.
I gained an appreciation for the investigation of elephant ecological preferences, learned the methods and many reasons behind tracking collared elephants, and got hands-on experience with the Marula tree bee project. All of these projects are crucial to the preservation of elephant habitats, understanding elephant behavior, and improving the lives of people who are impacted by elephants. I was also introduced to the complex political climate regarding megavertebrate conservation in South Africa, through conversations with the researchers and ranger that I worked alongside. This experience has sparked new ideas in my mind for paths to consider as I pursue a career in conservation.
My time spent at Elephants Alive was invaluable, and I would like to thank everyone there for being so generous and welcoming. I never expected to have such a robust experience in such a short span of time. The passion and drive of the Elephants Alive team is inspiring, I wish I had more time to spend with them, although I needed to get back to begin my second year of school. I hope that I get the chance to work with Elephants Alive again in the future, and wish everyone the best of luck with their research!