Tracking Silver Moon: Following the Movements of a Wild Elephant in Burma
Silver Moon, or Ngwe Thaw Dar in the language of Myanmar, is a female Asian elephant living in the muddy jungles of Myanmar's western hills. She is a member of a five-animal herd wandering the central part of Alaungdaw Kathapa National Park. In December 2002, Silver Moon became a vital participant in the effort to save endangered Asian elephants as the first wild elephant in Myanmar to wear a satellite-telemetry collar.
In December, the Zoo's research team, including Chris Wemmer, Peter Leimgruber, Dan Kelly, and former Zoo Director Lucy Spelman, traveled to Alaungdaw Kathapa. They set out to capture and collar a wild elephant with the assistance of park warden U Ye Htut, Myanmar elephant veterinarian U Myo Than, and 15 park rangers.
The capture team conducted a strenuous search, found a herd of wild elephants, and started to follow it on foot. After six days of careful tracking, they were able to dart 20-year-old Silver Moon with anesthesia and capture her. A satellite collar was placed around her neck and adjusted to fit properly. Afterward, Silver Moon awoke and continued on her way, now bearing the equipment necessary for researchers to follow her movements through the jungle.
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