posted at 03:51
Author: Kate Sommers-Dawes
How Paul Allens $7 Million and Big Data Are Combating Africas Elephant Crisis
That's where Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen's Great Elephant Census, the project he started with a $7.3 million grant and a partnership with the Botswana nonprofit Elephants Without Borders, comes in. Nobody knows exactly how many elephants are left in Africa, which makes them extremely difficult to track and protect from poachers and other threats. The GEC seeks to solve that problem by counting the continent's savanna elephants, living and dead, over two years. "The threat of local extinction feels very real," Mike Chase, director and founder of Elephants Without Borders said when the project was announced last year. He recounted how he and his organization "Flew a survey over a park where we had previously counted more than 2,000 elephants. We counted just 33 live elephants and 55 elephant carcasses. That is why this research is so important." "Elephants are being poached as we're trying to count them," said Ted Schmitt, senior program manager-conservation at Vulcan, Inc., the company Allen started in 1986 to manage his philanthropic projects. Surveyors have just finished counting the elephant population in Botswana, for example, after two months. Chase recently reported that there were "No fresh poached elephant carcasses seen on the entire survey."

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