Earthwatch scientist Dr. Joshua Plotnik is head of elephant research at the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation in Thailand and the founder of Think Elephants International.
Says Dr. Plotnik: “Through this work, we hope to learn more about how elephants work together to solve problems; how they process information in their social and physical environments; how they remember the location of family members, food sources, and water sources; and how they interact with each other and with people both in and out of their natural environments. This knowledge gives wildlife management personnel a new tool for tackling human-elephant conflict by providing insight into the needs of wild elephants - to mitigate conflict, one must consider the needs of both sides. The more we understand about elephant behavior, the more likely we are to come up with viable conservation protocols and solutions to human-elephant conflict that benefit both the elephants and the people involved.”
A great moment in the field:
“We have had the greatest impact on children by letting them see elephant intelligence firsthand,” says Dr. Plotnik. “The revelation that these animals are not so different from us inspires the next generation of conservationists to work to protect them.”