Nat Geo Explorers Combat Elephant Poaching--With Scat


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(Photo Trip Jennings)

National Geographic explorers Trip Jennings and Andy Maser departed for the Democratic Republic of Congo yesterday to begin their Elephant Ivory Project, an effort to curb poaching of African elephants, Nat Geo reports.

Jennings and Maser will accompany Dr. Sam Wasser, director of the Center for Conservation Biology at the University of Washington, who's work involves analyzing DNA from seized ivory and comparing it to DNA from wild elephant scat. This helps pinpoint populations of elephants and areas where poaching has likely taken place. Jennings and Maser plan to aid Wasser by collecting scat samples from previously untested herds in remote regions of the DRC.

"To reach the locations of these un-sampled herds, we’ll be taking pirogues on the Congo River and its tributaries, riding motorcycles through recent battlefields, and collaborating with local tribes in some of the most remote jungles of Africa," Jennings said in the Nat Geo post.

Despite being banned in 1989, the international ivory trade has reportedly seen a resurgence in recent years. Last year alone, an estimated six percent of the 450,000 African elephants in the wild were killed. Elephant numbers in the DRC are also down to less than 10 percent of what they were historically.

You can get more information, follow the explorers' progress, and track them in real time on their web site, elephantivoryproject.org

--Michael Webster

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