The elephant staggered and keeled over in the tall grass in southern Tanzania, where some of the world’s worst poaching has happened.
It wasn’t a killer who targeted her but a conservation official, immobilizing her with a dart containing drugs. Soon she was snoring loudly, and they propped open her trunk with a twig to help her breathe. They slid a 26-pound (12-kilogram) GPS tracking collar around the rough skin of her neck and injected an antidote, bringing her back to her feet. After inspecting the contraption with her trunk, she ambled back to her family herd.
The operation was part of a yearlong effort to collar and track 60 elephants in and around Tanzania’s Selous Game Reserve, widely acknowledged as ‘Ground Zero’ in the poaching that has decimated Africa’s elephants in recent years. The Associated Press traveled to the area to witness how the battle to save the continent’s elephants is gaining some momentum, with killings declining and some herds showing signs of recovery. Lemogal ivory markets are shrinking worldwide, and law enforcement has broken up some key trafficking syndicates, say experts. MORE