Monday, 22 October 2012

Solar Power Used to Study Elephants in Africa


ScienceDaily (Oct. 18, 2012) — A team of elephant researchers from Stanford University has transformed a remote corner of southern Africa into a high-tech field camp run entirely on sunlight. The seasonal solar-powered research camp gives scientists a rare opportunity to quietly observe, videotape and photograph wild elephants at Mushara waterhole, an isolated oasis in Etosha National Park in Namibia.
"One of the really special aspects of solar energy is that it allows us to be in this incredibly remote area that's closed to tourists and is off the grid," said lead researcher Caitlin O'Connell-Rodwell, an instructor at the Stanford School of Medicine and a collaborating scientist at Stanford's Center for Conservation Biology. She is also co-founder of Utopia Scientific, a non-profit organization that promotes awareness about science, conservation and public health.
"We get to watch elephant society unfold before us in a very quiet environment -- no generators, no people, no vehicles," she added.
O'Connell-Rodwell has been studying elephant communication at Mushara for 20 years. She was the first scientist to demonstrate that low-frequency calls produced by elephants generate powerful vibrations in the ground -- seismic signals that elephants can feel, and even interpret, via their sensitive trunks and feet.


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