On March 13, National Geographic explorers Trip Jennings and Andy Maser will join forces with Sam Wasser, the director of the Center for Conservation Biology at the University of Washington, to identify ivory poaching hotspots. It is crucial to figure out which populations are being targeted by poachers before these endangered herds are pushed to the brink of extinction.
The team will go deep into the jungle of the Democratic Republic of Congo, a notoriously unstable country thought to be a large source of illegal ivory, to collect DNA from samples of elephant scat. Dr. Wasser will analyze the DNA and match it with DNA from illegal ivory seizures, enabling him to identify where the poached elephants lived.
Wasser works with the international policing organization INTERPOL, using his pioneering methods of wildlife forensics and DNA analysis to help curb the quickly growing ivory trade.
The Elephant Ivory Project crew will then produce media from the expedition to educate the US and beyond on the current situation of African elephants and what can be done to stop elephant poaching.
In 1989, there was a global uproar at the elephant death rate of 7.1% due to poaching. That year the international ivory trade was banned and elephant poaching was nearly stopped overnight. By identifying poaching hotspots before it‚Äôs too late and effectively using media to tell these beautiful animals‚Äô story, we can do this again as a planet, but we must act now.