Tuesday, 07 May 2013 11:57

Dr. Ingrid Suter from ElefantAsia publishes her Lao Elephant PVA

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Congratulations to ElefantAsia's Ingrid Suter for her Doctorate and the publication of her Population Viability Analysis on Lao Elephants.

Ingrid Suter, a PhD rgaduate in The School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Management, has made it her mission to assist in the protection of the endangered Asian Elephant.

After graduating from the University of Queensland with a Bachelor of Environmental Management Ingrid Suter spent nearly three years living in Laos as an AusAid-funded volunteer with International Non-Government Organisation ElefantAsia.

When she realised that the Government of Laos had limited funding dedicated to comprehensive Asian elephant research and what had been done was often outdated she decided to pursue her PhD in the area.

"I soon realised that in order to protect this endangered species from regional extinction, information must be made available," she said.

"A year into my placement with ElefantAsia I knew that this was a wonderful opportunity for me to further my professional abilities while assisting national and international conservation management."

"My PhD aims to give the public an insight into the lives of those working with elephants on a daily basis and ways regional extinction may be avoided."

With only an approximate 1,200 elephants remaining in Laos, both wild and domesticated populations are on the edge.

Habitat loss is the leading factor in wild elephant decline, while a low birth rate threatens to see domesticated elephants driven to regional extinction.

Ingrid believes that many foreigners have a misconstrued perception of domesticated elephants.

She wants to make people aware of the long tradition of elephant ownership and the high regard the Lao people have for their elephants.

"Domesticated elephants really are members of the family and there's no reason why this living cultural heritage need stop, with just a few touches of modern-day assistance" she said.

"Sadly the idealistic days of animals frolicking in the wild untouched by human behaviour are gone for most endangered species".

"I see the way forward being in ethical, high standard tourist camps, large breeding sanctuaries, and small-scale, selective timber harvesting."

Upon completion of her PhD Ingrid sees her future working in endangered species management, using her experience and knowledge of cultural differences to assist in balanced outcomes for societies and wildlife.

"A combination of social awareness and scientific modelling can see both humans and animals coexisting without the threat of extinction".

"Animals can look after themselves, its people and policy we must continually strive towards educating and improving."

Last modified on Thursday, 05 June 2014 09:43