Tag Archives: wildlife

Pachyderm-perched perspective

27 Jun

The elephants lumber down the main drag of Sauraha.  On their way to work – on their way home from work – on their way to a refreshing river bath.  Their job?  Schlepping tourists around the Royal Chitwan National Park in Nepal’s Terai Arc region.

“Traffic” in Sauraha

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Genetics to the rescue!

7 May

It’s somewhere between pet peeve, best compliment, and favorite inside-the-lab joke when someone says “do the genetics”.  As in “hey we found this piece of fur/tissue/excreta out in the field, could you do the genetics on it?” or “we want to know XYZ, couldn’t you just do the genetics and tell us?”

Who is that masked lab geek?

Of course I want to just swoop down like some sort of laboratory super hero – cape swirling around the tops of my knee-high boots, hands propped powerfully on my magical pipetter tool belt – and declare, “Never fear, I shall DO THE GENETICS!”  My battle cry would probably be “Multiplex!” or something geeky yet powerful.

In fact, my genetic super hero alter ego was recently called forth her biosafety-level-2 phone booth to do the genetics for a Department of Natural Resources in distress.

Chronic wasting disease was recently detected in a deer from northern Wisconsin – that’s almost 200 miles further north than anyone was expecting to see a case of this disease that, until now, had remained primarily localized in southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois.  This disease has been a constant concern for the DNR, a consternation for hunters, and a cost of many state dollars.  Needless to say, an entirely new outbreak was a bit disconcerting.  Questions were raised, speculations were rampant.  How did a diseased deer show up so far from the hot zone?  Was there a conspiracy?  Was someone illegally transporting deer?  Were captive deer farms leaking disease on to the landscape?  Was it just all a big bungled mistake?

Couldn’t someone just do the genetics and find out…Never fear!

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Place of refuge – for villagers and dolphins

13 Nov

First I hear the squeaking.  Surely my ears are playing tricks on me.  Maybe its my teeth rubbing the plastic of my snorkel.  But then I see a shadow move across the glints of sunlight filtering through the deep blue.  The shadows move closer.  The dolphins are surfacing.  Surfacing, playing, almost dancing, sometimes pooping – and all right around me.

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The St. Croix Cougar reaches the end of its journey

29 Jul

It’s not common to find a cougar in Wisconsin.  It’s almost unimaginable to track one through Wisconsin on his way across the continent.  This week the journey of the “Saint Croix Cougar” came to a sad end.  The cougar was found hit by a car on a highway near Milford, Connecticut.

A cougar caught on a night camera. Photo credit - Not Me! From WDNR.

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A boom on the prairie

27 May

It’s 3:30 in the morning.  I pull my car onto the gravel shoulder of the country road.  I step out into the pitch black quiet and follow a strange man into a field.

No, I’m not just out to worry my mother!  I’m out to see prairie chickens!

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That’s a mighty big cow!

5 May

“Madam, come quickly, they are here!”

I wake up to an urgent whisper accompanied by loud rapping on my louvered bedroom window.

“Madam, wake up!  You should come now, the elephants are in our field!”

I climb out of my bed and onto my bike and follow Musa down the bumpy bush path toward his millet field.

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A family that samples together…

5 May

Among the finest votes of confidence I’ve received: a biologist with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources assured me I would clearly be able to accomplish grand things in my future, because I had managed to turn my sample collection into a family vacation.  That’s right, I convinced my parents and sister to leave the comfortable southern warmth of Arkansas and travel to northern Illinois (in December!) to collect bits of deer tissue from hunter check stations, so that I would have plenty of samples for the analysis of deer population genetic patterns relative to the CWD-infected zone in the Midwest.

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