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 (moved and released into new habitat), and resident elephants inhabiting both large forest areas as well as fragmented landscapes with high levels of anthropogenic disturbances. The hormone samples are obtained by trekking 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.