By Elizabeth Willoughby on
Although actor and activist George Clooney co-founded the Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP) as a way to systematically monitor threats to human security over Sudan and South Sudan, it is now also being used, in cooperation with ENOUGH Project and DigitalGlobe, to keep watch over elephants in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
There is good reason for this, according to the groups’ report Poachers Without Borders, which claims that Sudanese and South Sudanese poachers are killing elephants in Garamba National Park and selling their ivory tusks to the Asian black market.
The lucrative return ($1,000 to $1,300 per pound, which means up to $175,500 per tusk for an adult male) is used as funding for weapons, ammunition and supplies. Using high powered weaponry to kill several elephants at once, and then quickly removing the tusks by chainsaw, the animals are being butchered at an unprecedented rate.
Using satellite imagery and predictive analytics, SSP and its partners aim to assist park rangers in tracking the migrating herds through the vast park, as well as help focus patrol efforts on probable areas according to “historical geospatial trend analysis, cost surface travel analysis, key terrain analysis, and predictive analysis”.
“If the application of the predictive analysis helps to slow the slaughter of elephants,” says the report, “the analytical method and tools could be used elsewhere in Africa to stem the increasingly rapid slaughter that is taking a heavy toll on the continent’s elephant population.”
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