Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Elephant No. 43: Foam Beads

From the sublime photography of Urzula Kozak yesterday to a ridiculous elephant made of striped foam beads today . . .

I saw these in the dollar store a week ago, and thought I could perhaps make some kind of elephant out of them. I bought a bag of both square and round beads, without a clue how I'd connect them, nor what kind of elephant they'd produce. I think I must have been swayed by the similarity of the round ones to an elephant's legs. Or something.

I decided that pipe cleaners would probably the best connectors for foam beads like these. Pipe cleaners are fuzzy enough to fit into the holes and hold things together, can be cut to any length, and can obviously be shaped and twisted to suit. Upon reflection, I wish I'd used pipe cleaners in the colours of the beads, rather than white, but it was too late by the time I actually began to reflect.

I began by making four legs, then twisted them into pairs to form the front and back of the body.

To keep the foam beads from sliding off, I bent a little bit at the end of each pipe cleaner, then jammed it back in.

I honestly had no clue what I was doing, but I figured I could maybe join the legs front to back by making a sort of oval-shaped body.

Twisting the two leftover ends of pipe cleaner together, I formed a bit of chest, then the head.

I continued down from the head to form the trunk.

After this, it got a bit absorbing, and I forgot to take photos. I twisted some pipe cleaners around the head to make ears, then drew a line of pipe cleaner from the top of the head down the back to fill out the neck and spine, while also forming a short tail. The final step was adding two lines of beads around the outside to make a fatter body.

I guess these are meant to be used by kids to make necklaces and bracelets, and I bet actual kids could make a better elephant than I did. But I liked the final result better than I expected to, and could perhaps be persuaded to make something else like this in future. Or not.

Elephant Lore of the Day
A recent story in the Times of India reported on a new way of keeping elephants away from crops. As human-elephant conflict increases across Asia, researchers have been scrambling to find ways of reducing the violence and death on both sides.

Enter the humble loudspeaker. Vivek Thuppil and Richard G. Coss of the University of California, Davis, have discovered that elephants can be scared off by the recorded sounds of tigers. After recording the growls of tigers and leopards in the wild, Thuppil and Coss set up infrared sensors to trigger playback of the growls when elephants approached a field of crops.

Interestingly, the elephants reacted quite differently, depending on whether they heard a tiger or a leopard. Tigers are natural predators of elephant calves, while leopards do not prey on elephants at all. As a result, when elephants heard tiger growls, they retreated silently from the fields. If they heard leopard growls, however, the elephants trumpeted loudly and probed nearby undergrowth before finally going away.

Elephants are clever creatures, however, and sometimes get wise to the fact that there is no real tiger or leopard in the vicinity. Still, it is hoped that these findings, published in the journal Biology Letters, will aid in the development of effective means of keeping at least some elephants out of farmers' fields, thereby reducing human-elephant conflict.

Which begs the question: if elephant habitat continues to shrink as a result of farming, where are they expected to find food, and where will they retreat to when they hear a tiger growl?

To read the original article, click here.

Asian elephants in field of crops.
Source: http://www.assamchronicle.com/node/43

To Support Elephant Welfare
Boon Lott's Elephant Sanctuary (Thailand)
Wildlife SOS (India) 
The Elephant Sanctuary (Tennessee)

David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation

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