PHOTO GALLERY: MU researchers study elephant dung in Kenya

Monday, November 14, 2011 | 2:29 p.m. CST

Two MU graduate students have been researching elephant dung and hoping it could provide answers to Africa’s wildlife problems.

Tabitha Finch, an MU doctoral student, collects an elephant dung sample in a Masai manyatta, or village, in the Mara North Conservancy in Kenya on May 28.
Surrounded by curious onlookers, Tabitha Finch collects a dung sample from an elephant that was chased from the farmer’s cornfield near Kilgoris, Kenya on May 21.
MU student Tabitha Finch measures a piece of elephant dung in a wheat field outside Narok, Kenya on May 21. Finch will use the measurement to estimate the age of the elephant that deposited it.
Just inside the boundary of Masai Mara National Reserve in southwestern Kenya, two young elephants wrestle on May 23. MU student Tabitha Finch’s research compared the stress hormone levels and parasite loads of elephants that raid crops with elephants that live in Masai Mara National Reserve and other protected areas.
MU student Tabitha Finch uses a microscope she carried from Missouri to Kenya to count the number of parasite eggs in a gram of elephant dung. The number of eggs in the dung will give Finch one indication of the animal’s health.
MU student Tabitha Finch lifts a test tube filled with a mixture of dung and water in front of high school students in Langata, Kenya. Finch visited two schools to share research and give students hands-on experience extracting and counting parasite eggs in dung samples.

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