The aerial image above of savannah elephants in Botswana is part of the largest-ever census of savannah elephants in Africa. UMass Amherst wildlife ecologist Curt Griffin and postdoctoral researcher Scott Schlossberg are members of an advisory team compiling data, conducting statistical analyses and creating distribution maps to assist Elephants Without Borders (EWB) in estimating abundance and geographic distribution of savannah elephants. EWB director and founder Mike Chase is a UMass Amherst alum. Aerial surveys are conducted from small planes and helicopters, in which observers count herds in real time and from digital photos taken from fly-bys, a technique called strip transect sampling. The two-year, $8 million Pan-African elephant survey by EWB and other conservation and government organizations–involving 18 participating nations–will form a baseline that wildlife ecologists can use to coordinate conservation efforts. Learn more.
Photo credit: Elephants Without Borders