Friday, May 28, 2021

Tracking Elephants Tusks with GPS

In order to help reveal the routes used by illegal elephant tusk smugglers National Geographic created artificial tusks, embedded with GPS tracking technology. African elephants are currently under seige from smugglers who can make a fortune feeding China's insatiable demand for ivory. In Tanzania 60% of elephants have been slaughtered in the last 5 years and in Mozambique 48% of the elephants have been slaughtered. In many places in Africa this illegal trade in elephant tusks is being driven by militias and terrorist groups.

In Tracking the Illegal Tusk Trade National Geographic has mapped out some of the routes being used to smuggle elephant tusks out of Africa. These routes were discovered by planting artificial tusks in the supply chain. By mapping the smuggling routes taken by these artificial tusks alongside the reported locations of terrorist organizations National Geographic shows what appears to be a clear connection between the illegal trade in elephant tusks and African militias and terrorist groups. Groups who use this trade to finance their violent operations.

The National Geographic story accompanying the maps of the illegal smuggling routes explores how Joseph Kony, leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army is killing elephants in order to be able to afford guns and ammunition. Kony is one of Africa’s most wanted terrorists. In 2015 The Guardian estimated that Kony was responsible for the deaths of over 100,000 people and the abduction of at least 60,000 children in Uganda.

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