Friday’s Food for Thought: Tracking Ivory

GPS trackers reveal ivory smuggling route


According to a recent National Geographic Magazine investigative multimedia project, “Tracking Ivory,” poachers kill 30,000 African elephants each year and pilfer their ivory tusks to fund terrorism. To help reveal who is responsible for these atrocities, investigative journalist Bryan Christy and the magazine’s new special investigations unit pinpointed poachers using the very object they seek to smuggle.

George Dante, one of the world’s most respected taxidermists, placed custom-built GPS trackers inside artificial ivory tusks with hope the tusks would be picked up by smugglers. After tracking the tusks for two months, at the time of printing Christy and his team discovered the artificial ivory traveled through the Lord’s Resistance Army’s Kafia Kingi base. This project also includes an interactive map and photo gallery illustrating the human toll of the African ivory trade. Learn more about National Geographic’s ivory tracking mission by watching “Warlords of Ivory,” airing Aug. 30 at 8 p.m. ET on the National Geographic Channel.

In addition to GPS, remote sensing technology is also being applied to this growing conservation and global security concern. According to Science World Report, scientists are calling on space agencies to help preserve the world’s ecosystems. According to the article, global wildlife populations have halved in the past 40 years, but in 10 years time satellites have the potential to help negate this if ecologists and space agencies agree on priorities.

Read more about how geospatial technology is being used to help stop poaching in the trajectory cover story “Wildlife Crimes.”

Photo Credit: National Geographic

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