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Through a recommendation from Assistant Professor Jed Murdoch, Elias, who dual majored in Environmental Sciences / Wildlife and Fisheries Biology, joined the ecology staff for the Zambian Carnivore Programme in Africa. He works with large carnivores in Eastern Zambia's South Luangwa National Park.
"I work predominately with the populations of lions, wild dogs, spotted hyenas, and leopards both in the park and the surrounding Game Management Areas. The majority of the field work involves finding and following lion prides, lion male coalitions, and wild dog packs and tracking the survival of individuals, spatial patterns of each group, recruitment, mating, and prey selection. In addition to field research, I'm involved with conservation efforts in the region, mainly with anti-snaring work, including the immobilization and treatment of snared animals in and outside of the park and with human-wildlife conflict issues. The region has substantial poaching issues, and it is fantastic to be able to help mitigate the mortality of poached animals. Finally, I assist with educating secondary students interested in pursuing careers in conservation and training university students and wildlife professionals in field methodology. This year I'm leading a pilot project for a leopard abundance study using remote camera traps.”
"Leaving the UVM community and dropping into a research programme right in the midst of a developing country and its high-end tourism and wildlife viewing was an unbelievable transition. All of a sudden, I was not only putting into practice what I had learned in the classroom but developing completely new skill-sets. The programme's staff is extremely diverse, with the majority of staff from the local community, presenting me with chances to improve my communication skills across cultural and language barriers. The most challenging and rewarding aspect of this work has been developing the versatility, patience, and flexibility of working in the African bush. One moment you are under a vehicle figuring out how to make a part work with limited tools and spares, the next you are following wild dogs on a hunt for several hours focused on observing every second. From here, my next goal is to begin graduate study with a project involving one of the carnivore species here in Zambia. The majority of Zambia has had limited intensive study into the status of carnivore species and their dynamics, so it's exciting to be involved in research that is first of its kind."