#WildWomenInterviews with Janaki Lenin: Episode 13
TNC Vidya is an Associate Professor at the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, Bangalore. She primarily studies the behaviour and social organisation of elephants.
Vidya talks about how she identifies individual elephants by their unique ears and tails, and the way she establishes how each one is related to another in a group using DNA. From observing known elephants and their relatives, her group is finding out a lot more about what makes Asian elephants different from African elephants.
Asian elephants live in much smaller groups since their food is probably restricted and environmental conditions are somewhat predictable. Therefore, the role of the matriarch is not so important as groups don’t need day-to-day leadership. Neither do the same individuals live in the same groups. They may split, join others from their clans, and return to their original groups later. Vidya’s work shows how living with female relatives willing to babysit calves frees mothers to find forage. Even though adult females prefer to live in groups since it’s easier to raise young, they may occasionally be seen solitarily. Her work also reveals that older bulls in musth gain more access to females than younger males.
Watch the interview to know more about the delightful family life of elephants.
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