Thursday, December 15, 2011

Proximity Data: Which Elephants is Socializing with Whom?

It is important for GVI volunteers to monitor the social wellbeing of our elephants, and we collect data on their social behaviours three times a week during hikes in the forest. We want to ensure that our elephants are socializing normally and just see how they are getting on with each other.
Part of our data collection includes observing elephant proximity a 5 minute intervals, so we look at which elephants are within trunk’s reach of each other and which are within 10 meters of each other. Sateesh, a GVI Vol Leader, has been working hard on creating charts using this data that give volunteers a visual image of the proximity data they collected. (above figure is an example graph of our proximity data observed of Bpee Mai)

For example, from our data we can see that in November Boon Jan spent about 50% of her time within trunks reach of her infant Song Kran. During the same period Mana spent 30% of her time within trunks reach of her infant Bpee Mai. Also, Thong Dee only spent less than 20% of her time within 10 meters of any of the 4 other elephants. Our results are interesting and we will continue to create monthly charts in order to follow any changes in socialization and proximity between the elephants.