Non-invasive stress monitoring
We are adapting and applying endocrinology methods to extract and measure hormone metabolites (glucocorticoids) found in elephant dung, which help us to monitor stress responses of wild elephant individuals and populations. We study wild elephants that are translocated and released into new habitats, and resident elephants inhabiting large forest areas and fragmented landscapes with high levels of anthropogenic disturbances. The hormone samples are obtained by trekking after the GPS-collared elephants and collecting fresh dung (within 8 hours after defecation) from them. The dung samples are then frozen until further analysis in the laboratory, whereby the desired hormone metabolites for assessing stress response are then extracted from the dung samples, measured and stored.