The purpose of this two-year project is to use acoustic recording devices to provide information about imperilled forest elephants that are very costly to monitor by direct observation or traditional transects. These funds will support: (1) a monitoring program at the Dzanga Bai, a forest clearing in the Central African Republic and an important source of wildlife management data as the site of the world’s longest-running individual-based study of African forest elephants; and (2) a regional program to link and improve the science of biologists and field technicians using acoustic monitoring for wildlife management in Africa. (2018-2020)

Former Project Titles:

  • Monitoring and protecting the Nouabalé-Ndoki Landscape of Congo (2016-2018)
    • This grant will support acoustic technology to monitor elephant presence, absence, and abundance and human activity, including logging and illegal hunting, at remote sites in the Central African forest. Specific activities will include deploying acoustic sensors to detect elephant calls and man-made sounds (including heavy machinery and gunshots) in the Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park, the Loundougou forest concession, and the Kabo forest concession, developing software to automatically analyze the recordings, and advising management about changes in elephant activity and detected threats.
  • Long term acoustic monitoring of critical elephant populations / Long-term Acoustic Monitoring of Critical Forest Elephant Populations (2013-2016)
    • This project has pioneered the use of acoustic recording devices to provide information about imperiled forest elephants that are very difficult or costly to monitor by direct observation or traditional transects. These funds will support (1) training and equipment for a Congolese national to continue acoustic monitoring at critical forest elephant sites in the Republic of Congo; (2) ongoing costs related to refinement of the analysis tools at Cornell; and (3) attendance at an international summit to present the plight of forest elephants and how technology can contribute. This project will train Gabonese and Congolese students in monitoring and analyzing elephant activity at five sites (Jobo/Djoumou River, Precious Woods, Langoue Bai, Kessala, and northern Congo bais), and will further develop a tool to analyze elephant calls on recordings to interpret data more easily and rapidly for longterm elephant population monitoring.
  • Developing a method for rapid and efficient estimation of forest elephant populations (2012-2013)
    • This project will field test the new acoustic monitoring method for forest elephant population censuses against standard dung transect surveys conducted simultaneously to determine if the acoustic method is as accurate and more cost effective. The pilot testing will be conducted at Ivindo or Minkebe, in Gabon, which harbors important remaining forest elephant populations.
  • Toward optimizing acoustic methods for elephant conservation (2011-2012)
    • This project will further a promising new technology for monitoring elephant activity and human activity (including vehicles and gunshots) using unmanned acoustic recording units deployed in Central African forest. The grantee will further automate the software program that sifts through the recordings to isolate elephant and poaching sounds, and train local Gabonese and Congolese conservationists in using these techniques to monitor remote sites.
  • Acoustic and thermal image monitoring of African forest elephants (Loxodonta cyclotis) in Central Africa (2010)
    • This project will develop and test new technologies (at Mbeli Bai in the Republic of Congo) which have the potential to greatly improve our ability to monitor elephant activity and security remotely.