Follow Chase LaDue, Mason PhD candidate in environmental science and Fulbright Scholar, as he travels through Sri Lanka using integrative research to inform strategies that promote the welfare of elephants! 🐘
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This project represents a collaboration between three institutions in fulfillment of his PhD, including GMU. The Center for Elephant Conservation (CEC; Polk City, FL, USA) has been working with researchers at Rajarata University since 2007, founding the Center for the Study of Asian Elephants to foster scientific and cultural exchange between the USA and Sri Lanka. He will continue this collaboration by mentoring Rajarata students in non-invasive behavior and hormone research methods. This project will complement research already occurring at Rajarata, and it will further facilitate collaboration between these institutions.
The results of this project will also be useful in informing Human-Elephant Conflict (HEC) mitigation strategies. Many Sri Lankans depend on smaller subsistence farms as a primary food source, and so HEC in the form of crop-raiding can be devastating to whole communities. Chase will be engaging with local farming communities by hosting gatherings around the parks, where farmers and researchers can share their experiences, concerns, and possible solutions. These sorts of exchanges will foster mutual cultural understanding between stakeholders. He will also share the results of this study with Sri Lankan conservation managers, and the findings will be published in peer-reviewed journals. After his PhD is completed, he plans to continue to pursue a career in conservation biology, with the goal of working with communities impacted by HEC and similar conservation issues.
Dr. Elizabeth Freeman is Chase's dissertation chair and faculty mentor. Dr. Freeman will be teaching INTS 401 - Conservation Biology Fundamentals in the 21st Century this spring.
Chase is actually the second PhD student Dr. Freeman has mentored whom has received a Fulbright fellowship. The first was Stacie Castelda (now Bickley) who received a Fulbright to spend a year in Brazil studying the biology of three sympatric canid species, hoary foxes, crab eating foxes, and maned wolves and conflicts with Brazilian ranchers. Stacie completed her PhD in fall of 2016 and currently has a prestigious postdoctoral fellowship at the Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW) at the Cincinnati Zoo.
January 10, 2019