WKU elephant conservation research project competing in video contest
- WKU News
- Tuesday, April 27th, 2021
For the third year in a row a WKU elephant conservation research project in Kenya is competing in the International Elephant Foundation Conservation Video contest.
The project is titled “Elephant deterrent effectiveness in light of ecological and agricultural variation, Kenya” and despite the pandemic has managed to make progress in 2020 and continue into 2021.
The winner and runner-up awards are determined in part by voting, so vote online at https://elephantconservation.org/ief-conservation-video-awards/
The video was created by WKU Biology graduate student Sophia Corde with input from her mentor Bruce A. Schulte and past graduate student Lynn Von Hagen. The score for the video was provided by Sarah Schulte, a 2019 WKU alumnus who was a music major (guitar) and has scored several WKU student films. Dr. Schulte is the Associate Vice President for Strategy, Performance and Accountability and a University Distinguished Professor and was the head of WKU’s Biology Department for 10 years. He has been studying elephant chemical communication and conservation behavior for the past 27 years. Lynn Von Hagen continues to collaborate on the project through her doctoral research at Auburn University.
Overcoming pandemic influences on conservation research: While WKU researchers Corde and Schulte could not travel to the field site this past year, Kenyan farmers were still growing crops and elephants continued to raid their fields for forage. Fortunately, Kenyan collaborators on the research were able to keep the project going by maintaining deterrent fences, collecting data on crop losses, and assisting farmers with climate smart agriculture practices.
The current research project is part of a study called Elephants and Sustainable Agriculture in Kenya that involves citizen scientists through The Earthwatch Institute. The lead scientists are Drs. Bruce Schulte, Mwangi Githirua from Wildlife Works, and Urbanus Mutwiwa of Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology. In order to keep the field alive during the pandemic, Earthwatch created an expedition series with Schulte and Von Hagen as the featured speakers for Episode 7.
In addition to facilitating elephant conservation and improving the livelihoods of farmers, the project also works with local schools to provide education on conservation and needed resources for the schoolchildren and teachers. In the past year, donations from past citizen scientists and others have helped construct a water holding tank so water is available year-round for the school. In addition, donations provided meals for students.
Learn more about the project from past videos in 2019 (“Experimental test of elephant deterrents and ecological correlates of crop raiding, Kenya”) and 2020 ("Elephant deterrents, behavioral responses, and ecological correlates of crop-raiding, Kenya)."
Additional information is available on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ElesKenya/.
Contact: Dr. Bruce Schulte, email@example.com