Welcome to the Dung Diaries — a research chronicle of Kris Budd and her adventures studying the Asian Elephant in Southeast Asia!
Why call it the Dung Diaries?
Well to get down to the dirty work….
DUNG. POOP. SCAT. FECES.
(and any other appropriate or inappropriate way to phrase it).
By trade I am a Scatologist. I [intentionally] collect dung samples from elephants
Why, you may ask?
The outside of dung is actually coated with the animal’s cells, shed during the digestive processes, which hold all the DNA you need to conduct genetic work on a species that can weigh up to 5 1/2 TONS. And while you may like to think of elephants as happy-go-lucky all year long the truth is…
THEY ARE WILD ANIMALS
and should be treated as such.
Many researchers are turning to collecting genetic samples non-invasively–> aka without directly harming, touching, or in some cases even seeing the animal. It is especially gaining popularity with elusive animals such as many carnivores in North America, or large dangerous animals such as Elephants.
Isn’t there another Dung Diaries?
Why yes indeed! The original Dung Diaries actually began with PhD student Tabitha Finch back in 2011 while completing her dissertation on the crop raiding African Elephants in Maasai Mara region of Kenya. Although her project is long since over you can still find her study here!
Research isn’t always fun and games, but when you’re working with Elephant Poop its hard not to have a sense of humor.
The Dung Diaries Research wouldn’t be possible without funding and support from agencies and government officials.
(And viewers like you)