Approximately 150 000 African elephants have been lost in the last decade. Numbers continue to decline in the face of poaching, human-elephant conflict and inbreeding. We are creating a DNA database of the South African elephant population to safeguard the future of the species. Firstly, A DNA database is important for monitoring inbreeding and the predisposition of disease. Secondly, being able to link ivory to specific elephants in specific areas assists authorities in identifying poaching hotspots.
WHO ARE THE PROJECT TEAM?
The Rory Hensman Conservation and Research Unit (RHCRU) is partnering with the National Zoological Gardens Pretoria and the Forensic Sciences Institute of North Carolina State University.
HOW IS THE DNA OBTAINED?
A dart gun will be used to obtain skin samples, so the animals do not need to be anesthetized. The dart is specially made to collect a small piece of skin before falling to the ground.