Elephant trenches and brave dogs

The first time I saw a wild elephant herd (I was maybe 10 years old), I tried feeding them a branch of juicy leaves. Luckily I was on the right side of a well-constructed elephant trench and my grandmother was around to drag me away. More importantly, the elephants were in a good mood –…

Leopard attack

What would you do if you felt a heavy weight and sharp claws digging into your chest in the middle of the night, opened your eyes and saw a leopard’s face a couple of inches away from yours? You would probably scream very loudly. And thats exactly what a colleague did many years ago.

Conservation biology: its all about crap!

Crap has a profound influence on the lives of us conservation biologists, and thats a true fact. My papers are based on scats. People I know  are reminded of me when they see someone in a movie examining elephant dung in the field. Whereas in reality, I get more excited when I see a fresh…

Do tigers drink elephant milk?

My field assistants have an interesting belief. They say that tigers are very fond of elephant milk, because it is nutritious. So when there is a young calf in an elephant herd, tigers follow that herd, in the hope of getting some milk from the lactating cow elephant. Though I think that if a tiger…

“How does your research help baby elephants?”

“How does your research help baby elephants?” I thought it was a slightly strange and somewhat misplaced question to ask me. As conservation biologists, we focus on saving populations of animals and groups of species, rather than individual baby animals (though I would consider an exception for elephants – see the photos below and you’ll…

The most confused bird on the planet

The Sri Lanka Frogmouth is definitely the funniest bird that I have come across (I cant quite decide whether it is also the ugliest).  It is a nocturnal bird, found only in the Western Ghats of India and in Sri Lanka. It’s pretty difficult to spot, so I got very excited the first time I…