Friday, January 16, 2009
Dung Pileup Reveals Elephant Population
I have heard of many methods scientists use to track endangered species, including barcoded identification tags and radio transmitters. However, the most ingenious tracking method comes from Bangkok, Thailand, where counting dung pileups provide an accurate count of elephants.
The dung pileup in Malaysia reveals that a total of 631 endangered Asian elephants are living in the Taman Negara National Park.
The dung tally method was developed by the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society and the Malaysia Department of Wildlife and National Parks. Melvin Gumal, director of the Wildlife Conservation Society's conservation programs in Malaysia said that the result of the study shows Taman Negara to be "one of the great strongholds for Asian elephants in Southeast Asia."
"It is hard to estimate the number of elephants by just looking at them because the rain forest is very lush. The elephants will find you faster than you see them," Gumal said.
No one elaborated on details, such as:
1. Was any type of food coloring used in food, so that if a single elephant left three piles, of say, hot pink, it would only be counted once.
2. Does elephant dung have similar unique characteristics, like finger prints and tire treads, so you can tell which animal left the pile?
3. Can you alter the fragrance of elephant dung with food?
4. Did anyone find the likeness of anyone famous in the dung, like Mahatma Ghandi?
5. Was the recycling team called in to scoop up the counted piles for further scientific research, like manufacturing herbal memory enhancement vitamins?
6. How much does elephant dung weigh wet as opposed to dry?
7. Would Tonto be able to track an elephant by following its dung?
8. Have they ever done DNA analysis on elephant dung?
9. Can it be processed for something other than paper? If so, does it have the same building potential as a tree?
10. Can scientists remove the smell before you buy it?