Peter became the director of the Elephant Listening Project (ELP) in January 2007. A behavioral ecologist, Peter has made Ithaca his base for more than 30 years, and has been fortunate to work for long periods of time in the field, observing animals in their natural environments and trying to understand what makes them tick. Although he has worked in such exotic places as Venezuela, Panamá, and the Galapagos, his eight years of research in Kenya, East Africa, were particularly influential. He is very happy to be back in Africa to carry on ELP’s research program in the equatorial rainforests of the Congo Basin.
Daniela joined us in 2016 in a Post-doc position, having studied the vocal behavior of gorillas in Central African Republic and Uganda for her PhD. Besides her academic background, her passion for the conservation of African wildlife has led her to initiate community outreach projects in collaboration with national authorities and NGOs. She also spearheaded a biomonitoring program in a National Park in Gabon. Immediately before she joined us, she was working with WWF Germany on wildlife crime related issues, focusing on the African elephant poaching crisis. She is excited to have the opportunity to apply her experience in field-based research and practical conservation efforts to monitor forest elephant populations and to better understand the functions of their vocalizations.
Liz’s career has focused on wildlife behavior and conservation. She was delighted to join the Elephant Listening Project in 2004. She mainly analyzes our sound recordings to identify elephant rumbles and gunshots, but also provides other support and trains our small army of volunteers.
Andrea devoted more than 27 years of her life to the first and longest demographic study of African forest elephants anywhere. She identified and cataloged over 4,000 individuals dwelling in the Dzanga National Park, Central African Republic, and tracked their family lives and associations, often from birth to adulthood. A founding member of the Elephant Listening Project, Andrea’s knowledge of this population continues to be an integral part of the project. For much of her time at Dzanga Bai, Andrea was a biologist with the Wildlife Conservation Society and a member of the IUCN’s African Elephant Specialist Group.
Ana began her sojourn with ELP while still an undergraduate at Cornell, quickly making herself indispensable. After assisting with the analysis of elephant vocal signals, she threw herself into preparations to help us restart the study at Dzanga after Andrea retired, heading out to Africa for months in the field. If she was not hooked on forest elephants before, she became so—not only because of the elephants but also the children in the local village.
Bobbi first touched base with ELP in 2007, when she attended the first ever Sound Analysis Workshop. By that time Bobbi had been working with captive elephants in Florida, had read Katy Payne’s pioneering research on elephant infrasound and the African elephant poaching crisis was crystalizing her interest in active conservation. She began working at BRP in 2008, focused on the use of passive acoustic technology to understand the ecology of baleen whales and to further their conservation. We have been trying to get her increasingly involved in our work on forest elephants, and she is now completing a masters degree based on a study of forest elephants in Ghana.
Nouabalé-Ndoki Acoustic Team
An extraordinary team of committed conservationists. Left to right: Frelcia Bambi, Terry Brncic, Onesi Samba and Phael Malonga.
These Wildlife Conservation Society researchers have been working with ELP for more than two years and now can independently maintain, curate, and analyze data from the largest acoustic monitoring grid in any tropical forest ecosystem.
Clement and Russel are Congolese biologists who have been working with WCS-Congo for many years. Clement recently completed his M.S.c degree, studying the movement of forest elephants among a cluster of clearings in Congo, including the Dzanga clearing studied by Andrea Turkalo.
Clement is principle investigator on a new study at two recently discovered bais in Congo, just east of Djobo Bai in Gabon. This is a critical area for forest elephants and currently under considerable pressure from poachers. Clement and Russel are working with ELP to collect acoustic data at these bais and also to make the first attempts to use night-vision photography to identify individuals visiting the bai at night.
Wildlife Conservation Society
WCS began working in Gabon in 1985 when Richard Barnes started a 4-year project to estimate the number of elephants there. Since that time, WCS has become a major force for conservation in Central Africa, with a key presence in Gabon and in Congo. ELP has been working as a collaborator with WCS since 2007, providing new and unique information about forest elephants to help in the conservation effort.
Compagnie Equitoriale des Bois
CEB was the first company in Gabon to operate under the principles of sustainable forestry management. CEB produced Central Africa’s first comprehensive forestry management plan. Under Gabonese law, the forest must be managed on a sustainable basis. The company is owned by Precious Woods.
ELP has been recording elephants at several forest clearings, or bais (the foresters call them ‘salines’) in this concession, including one that turns out to be the most active bai known to date in Gabon.
A member of the Elephant Listening Project since its inception in 1999, Mya took a break to study for a PhD and have two babies! Her research focused on improving acoustic monitoring methodologies for African forest elephants and understanding the role vocal signals play in maintaining their social system. She was awarded her doctorate in September 2009.
Mya now pursues her passion for education as part of the education program at the Lab of Ornithology (close at hand for frequent consultation about all things elephant).
Nico spent many years working to understand the ecosystem known as the Plateaux Bateke, with a special commitment to the conservation of large mammals, especially the forest elephant.
As head of the Bateke Elephant Project he made important strides toward expanding our knowledge of how elephants use this ecosystem, and increasing the interest and commitment of local people to find alternative land uses that are compatible with sharing the landscape with elephants and other important fauna.
From 2007-2010 Nico was a key collaborator with ELP in our monitoring efforts in the Bateke region.
Modeste has been observing and identifying elephants in Gabon for more than five years. As part of the Wildlife Conservation Society elephant research team, he has been the key person establishing a database of elephant identities for Langoue Bai, Ivindo National Park. Modeste is now teaching new researchers about elephant observation and identification.
Olivia works with the Elephant Monitoring Team at the Wildlife Conservation Society – Gabon, consulting on strategy and developing initiatives for elephant conservation. She plays a key role in keeping ELP’s acoustic monitoring projects ticking over (where?) and helping us identify places where we could assist in attaining conservation goals.
Bruce is a professor of physics at Ithaca College. He’s also the father of one of ELP’s founding members, Mya Thompson. He has had an active interest in ELP ever since Mya started here. Nik was one of Bruce’s students when the two of them went with Peter to Gabon in 2007 and provided the expertise for recording seismic activity for the project on the effect of oil exploration on elephant activity (link). Nik has now moved on to a career in sound engineering.
Edward has been working in Kakum National Park, Ghana (one of ELP’s study sites) since 2003. He took a leave of absence to study for an M.S.c at Freiburg University, Germany. As part of this, he joined us for a summer internship in 2007. He is now back in Kakum NP, working as a Law Enforcement and Protection Officer. He is conducting research for his PhD (with Cape Coast University) on the ecology of a primate species in Kakum Conservation Area. ELP is very happy to have Edward as a colleague: we hope to have a long and fruitful relationship with him.
Dzanga Ba’Aka Team
A team of Ba’Aka ‘pygmies’ provides support to the Elephant Listening Project in the Central African Republic. Their intimate knowledge of the equatorial rainforest and its inhabitants has proven essential to the success of our field efforts.
Dzanga Ba’Aka Team
Like the matriarch of an elephant family, Andrea mentored the father of some of the current Ba’Aka research team.