In March, the Elephants Alive (EA) research team attended the 2018 Savanna Science Network Meeting at Skukuza Rest Camp, Kruger National Park. This academic conference brings together scientists conducting savanna-related research in Africa, South America and Australasia, and is hosted by the Scientific Services of South African National Parks. EA’s Anka Bedetti-de Kock presented a 15-minute platform presentation titled ‘Developing fear landscapes - how do elephants respond?’ and Jessica Wilmot presented a poster titled ‘Protocol development and its use to classify damage causing elephants and related mitigation strategies’. Michelle Henley has been attending and delivering presentations at the Savanna Science Network Meeting for over a decade, forming valuable scientific relations with researchers from a variety of institutions to keep our research on elephants current and applied.
Then in April Michelle was off to the Institute for Advanced Study at the Wissenschaftskolleg in Berlin for a workshop entitled The Conservation Applications of Research on Elephant Behavior and Ecology. The workshop was kindly convened and financially supported by Dr. Hannah Mumby from the University of Cambridge. The cold was kept at bay by the energy and enthusiasm of the elephant specialists covering topics which varied from the importance of long-term studies to elephant cognition, male sociality, tree protection and human-elephant-coexistence for both African and Asian elephants. One outcome of the workshop will be a succinct summary of the burning conservation issues surrounding the protection of elephants. A call for the amalgamation of funding opportunities to make allowance for comparative studies across the globe was also considered important, thereby enabling new insights to be reached in a rapidly changing world for both elephants and people. Michelle departed inspired by the collective wisdom of more than a 100 years of fieldwork and insights gained from the studies currently still run under the guidance of the fieldwork ‘matriarchs’ coming from Asia, Botswana, Kenya, Namibia and South-Africa.