Epicocity In Southeast Asia: Saving Elephants + Whitewater

The EP crew is off to Bangkok this week for our next National Geographic expedition. For the next 3 weeks we’ll be filming a 1-hour episode of Monster Fish for the National Geographic Channel on the Mekong River in Laos. But before that, we’re stopping in Thailand to begin field work for the Elephant Ivory Project.

Photo of ivory Buddhas by Daniel Stiles/TRAFFIC

Elephant Ivory Project

The ivory trade is booming. Elephants are being killed by poachers at a rate of 10 percent per year. With just 470,000 elephants left in the world, it means that in just a few years we might lose our wild elephant populations.

So, in the Fall, EP will team up with Dr. Samuel Wasser of the Center for Conservation Biology at the University of Washington to help him complete his DNA map of illegal ivory poaching hotspots. By completing this map, scientists can pinpoint where illegal ivory is coming from and send resources to stop it in those areas. Our job: venture to the Democratic of Congo to collect DNA samples from elephant scat in the remote African jungle. This notoriously unstable country is considered too dangerous and remote for researchers to travel, but we’re up for the challenge.

But before we head to the Congo, we need to research where the illegal ivory is being sold… the largest market being in Thailand.

Courtesy International Rivers

Monster Fish in Laos

From Thailand, we head to Laos and the Mekong River. Teaming up again with Zeb Hogan, scientists and local conservationists, we’ll be using our custom sonar-equipped Wavesport Habitat to create 3D maps of the Khone Falls region of the Mekong River. A dam project threatens to disrupt this valuable ecosystem and the world’s largest inland fishery — it’s our hope to stop that from happening.

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~ by epicocity on February 5, 2010.

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