Sateesh Venkatesh
2021

Sateesh Venkatesh

Conservation Biologist

elephant eureka

meet sateesh

Sateesh is a conservation biologist working to improve knowledge of animal behavior in order to mitigate human-wildlife conflict around the world. This work has included elephants in a small village of Northern Thailand, savanna ecology in South Africa, and jaguars in Costa Rica. Currently, his research focuses on elephant personality differences to understand better how different elephant personalities may influence their movement patterns and interactions with their habitat.

elephant eureka
Nominated by: Ann Passer MR'13
Class of 2021 Location San Diego, USA
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While I have worked on research projects with volunteers, I found that it is possible to involve and engage anyone in conservation. Doing so with local people is essential for any conservation efforts. What I would like to promote in my future work is inclusion and support for more diverse viewpoints. I hope this will allow more opportunities for people at the local level to control and influence conservation efforts in their areas.

“What I would like to promote in my future work is inclusion and support for more diverse viewpoints. I hope this will allow more opportunities for people at the local level to control and influence conservation efforts in their areas.”

- Sateesh Venkatesh

For decades, the separate fields of conservation and animal behavior have both been developing solutions to complex wildlife problems. Though these fields have often studied the same species in the past, they view issues from different but parallel perspectives that don’t often overlap. My current work combines both conservation and animal behavior techniques, aiming to use information from both fields to solve problems. My current research tests variations in personality within a group of 31 semi-wild Myanmar elephants. We do this by presenting them with a novel puzzle box, designed to withstand an elephant. Very few studies use puzzle boxes to examine elephant personality. This particular group of elephants has allowed us to measure their movements in a wild habitat. The ultimate goal of the study is to link personality traits to potential crop-raiding behavior, investigating some of the possible drivers of human-elephant conflict. This study is one of the first when researchers have been able to combine robust animal behavior techniques in this way with conservation practices to develop holistic solutions that could benefit elephants worldwide.

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