October brings welcome rain for the people and the wildlife. This year the monsoon started as early as August, so by now everything is a luxurious green. The elephants are having an easier time because it has been wetter than usual. Perhaps for this reason, there have been a lot of babies born this year.
The rains follow a typical pattern over the course of the day – sunny and hot in the morning, showers and thunderstorms in the afternoon. Udawalawe sits at the intersection of two climate zones, which makes for strange and beautiful cloud formations with at times surreal atmospheric conditions. In the park we play games of cat and mouse with the rain clouds, trying to dodge the hyper-local downpours that are visibly framed against the brilliant sunlight. Pro tip – elephant viewing is best when there is a little bit of drizzle to cool us all off. Continue reading
by DJ and USW
Picture taken in 2011 shows scattered trees and grass species in between
If your garden is left unattended it grows wild after several seasons. Eventually, there will be a mini-forest of a few species carefully chosen by a natural process. This is an ecological succession. The same takes place in the wild. Once a habitat is disturbed but then left undisturbed by humans, it goes through a series of structural changes in the vegetation with time. Continue reading
By Michael Pardo, Cornell University
Monday, March 3, 2014
,  and their calves spotted at Teak Reservoir
Sometimes it’s easy to become so focused on elephants that I forget about the other fascinating creatures that share their habitat. This afternoon, we were watching , , and their calves at the edge of the Teak Reservoir when a large gaggle of tourist jeeps frightened them off.
We decided to stay put for a few minutes after the tourists left, in the hope that the elephants might return. No such luck, but our patience was rewarded with something else. Continue reading
Guest post by Michael Pardo, Cornell University
Monday, January 7, 2013
We’ve been on a roll this last week. Or maybe the elephants have. Either way, I’ve heard far more vocalizing in the past week than in both of my first two weeks combined, and have managed to record some of it as well. I hope for our luck to continue as we gather our equipment this morning and pile into the jeep.
Before long we see ’s group, and almost immediately hear a rumble. Unfortunately Kumara and I are still busy setting up the recording equipment, but I wait in the hopes of catching another call. As I watch the elephants, I notice that they seem unusually “touchy-feely” today, for lack of a better word. Continue reading
There are at least two kinds of science today – a) the kind that requires millions of dollars, a small army of techs and postdocs, and many fancy doo-dats or whatsits and b)everything else. The latter doesn’t do too well in today’s funding climate, which is geared toward funding BIG EXPENSIVE science. A small group of scientists – mostly students – are trying to change all that by appealing directly to the public to fund small, very cool, science projects and earn a nifty little reward of thanks. The projects are diverse – everything from zombie fish to next-generation algae technology. The result: The #SciFund Challenge! Help us help elephants – and help science along the way!
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It’s October, and the monsoon is in full force. As we wrote in an earlier post the elephants love mud. They’re just oversized piggies with big floppy ears. Here’s a video for your amusement:
Why do they love mud so much? As anyone who has seen or enjoyed a muddy spa retreat can tell you, it’s good for the skin and helps with thermoregulation. Because elephants don’t sweat, when it’s hot outside the evaporating mud cools them off. Rudyard Kipling so mischievously wrote in ‘The Elephant’s Child’:
‘Don’t you think the sun is very hot here?’ [says the Rock Python]
‘It is,’ said the Elephant’s Child, and before he thought what he was doing he schlooped up a schloop of mud from the banks of the great grey-green, greasy Limpopo, and slapped it on his head, where it made a cool schloopy-sloshy mud-cap all trickly behind his ears. Continue reading