It's the season for baby elephants-renewed hope
Andrea once again at Dzana Bai - Dec. 2014 © Yu Shiu / ELP

Elephant Listening Project

March 2015


With only five months behind her, Andrea Turkalo has managed to put her camp back together so that it's functioning and has resumed collecting her priceless data on the elephant families of the Dzanga Bai. Our colleague in Bioacoustics, Yu Shiu, spent much of December helping out with re-establishing camp. Best of all, Andrea has identified more than 20 new infants, many in the families she has known for decades (see ElodieII's new baby).
     Because individual families might only come to the bai two or three times in a year, we do not yet know which families might have been killed in the slaughter of May 2013. Although Andrea has information that poaching is continuing in the general vicinity, no more incidents have disturbed elephants in the clearing.

Unfortunately, a new threat is rearing its head—logging. Andrea learned that a joint French-Chinese logging company was given a concession just to the north of the Dzanga-Ndoki National Park. Despite recognition of Dzanga as a World Heritage Site, severe disruption only 10 km from this major refuge for forest elephants is due to begin in June. UNESCO has not yet responded to Andrea's appeals, but if they step in and can at least delay the onset of activities close to the park boundary, the Elephant Listening Project is planning to set up a grid of acoustic sensors to monitor the impact of logging operations—on elephants and on the frequency of poaching in the park.


Just a slip down the Sangha River from Andrea, the status of forest elephants in the northern Republic of Congo is slowly emerging from our research effort in early 2014. Last February and March I put up 19 sensors in one of the toughest habitats I have encountered in Central Africa—so tough that I re-hired my chef de mission to return for the data without involving me! The signs of elephants (and primates) increased as I moved with my team through the forest from north to south; Liz and I found the same in terms of elephant calls. This probably reflects a change in how difficult it is for hunters to get into the area. We are now working on the analyses to estimate the number of elephants in this area, to be compared with estimates based on the more traditional transect dung-pile counts completed at roughly the same time as our sampling.

Spring is coming, finally, to upstate New York - hope it is where you are as well!

Peter H. Wrege,
Director, Elephant Listening Project.

Pyote without a roof; thatch ready
© Yu Shiu / ELP

Camp - Before & Later

The social and relaxation hub of Andrea's camp is the pyote - a shady and relatively cool place to eat and talk, work on data, and even doze a bit on a hot afternoon.
Pyote roof structure in place
© Yu Shiu / ELP
Toilet block - a key item! © Yu Shiu / ELP

Elephants in Northern Congo 

With access down the Lingoue River to the east, my team made three expeditions walking west through the forest to put up recorders. The expedition farthest south took 21 days of walking (and swimming, and hacking ...). Although I saw signs of hunting on our treks, we found no gunshots in the three weeks of sound files used in the analysis - that was a nice surprise.
© Elephant Listening Project
The Elephant Listening Project is dedicated to the study and conservation of elephants, with a focus on the forest elephants of Central Africa. Visit the project's website at

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