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Title: Andrea Turkalo
Description: Elephant Listening Project

t&tt - September 26, 2011 05:31 AM (GMT)
Andrea Turkalo, Elephant Listening Project

For two decades, a group of wild African elephants has been watched over, studied and protected by their own guardian angel: an extraordinary American scientist named Andrea Turkalo....Elephants communicate in a complicated, sophisticated language that scientists are trying to decipher and compile into the world's first elephant dictionary.

Audio interview, Nat Geo, Jun 2011 [see box on right]

VIDEO: Secret Language of Elephants, 60 Minutes, Jan 2010

VIDEO: Gabon: The Last Eden, Nat Geo, 2007 (Netflix streamable)

VIDEO Excerpts: Rumbles from the Jungle, BBC, 2010
Ivory Trade:

VIDEO Excerpts: Mysteries of the Jungle Giants, Animal Planet version of BBC "Rumbles...", 2011 [playlist]

Space4Eles - August 17, 2012 06:10 PM (GMT)
The 2 thermal images are astonishing ...

Forest Elephant Chronicles
Using infrared to monitor social dynamics

One of the biggest surprises was the beauty. You see dozens of elusive elephants scattered like hot coals across a cool plain that is surrounded by forest trees radiating the heat they absorbed during the day.

spiritedlulu - April 12, 2013 09:08 PM (GMT)
Trouble in the Central African Republic

“[25 March] We evacuated Bayanga yesterday going downstream to the Wildlife Conservation Society camp [in Ouesso, Congo] for a few days to see how the situation evolves. This was precipitated by news that rebels were heading east. We didn’t want to wait, so packed up a few things and headed south on the river. It was a beautiful night with almost a full moon on a beautiful river. We had a close moment when we tried to run the border. The gendarmes on the CAR side started firing into the air, so we headed toward them. One of them was acting absolutely crazy threatening us. I passively listened making some lame excuses. Then a few of the younger men recognized me in the moonlight and started saying my name. This diffused the situation and the maniac then turned into a collaborator. It was eerie to see how fast the situation changed because once this guy started in on us I was sure we were stuck for at least a few hours, but all of this transpired in about 15 minutes. As we headed off we all put our heads down as the boat sped away and I was waving with my head down. I think our one advantage is that we were five women with two African men managing the boat. This was one memorable incident and after we arrived in camp in Congo at midnight we recounted the experience with a lot of laughter.

spiritedlulu - April 20, 2013 02:43 PM (GMT)
The collapse of government in the Central African Republic, and general lawlessness, has forced Andrea Turkalo to evacuate twice from the Dzanga area in the last month. We just heard that she has decided to come back to the U.S. for awhile to try getting other work done. When the situation stabilizes enough that she can focus on her work at the bai, she will return to Dzanga.

A very hopeful sign, at least for now, is that the anti-poaching team that helps protect the Dzanga elephants is still in place and doing patrols.

via ELP Facebook page ...

spiritedlulu - June 21, 2013 01:37 AM (GMT)
via Elephant Listening Project Facebook:

NEW PUBLICATION: Andrea Turkalo's paper, "Estimating forest elephant age" has just been published as an 'early view' in the African Journal of Ecology. This was one of the papers she was working on last summer while she was here. The motivation for this was to help researchers in the field. Prior to this, there was no real standard for estimating forest elephant ages, yet this is essential for being able to compare results from different studies. This paper is therefore an extremely important contribution to the effective conservation of forest elephants. It represents a huge amount of work: not only years of meticulously making notes and taking photographs in the field, but then analyzing those data to figure out what metrics to use to estimate age. As she notes in the acknowledgements, Peter Wrege and George Wittemyer helped her with the analysis. The photo shows the incredible difference is size between males and females. The small one is a 50yr old female, and the large one is 25yr old male!

spiritedlulu - August 16, 2013 09:43 PM (GMT)
via Elephant Listening Project Facebook:

Andrea Turkalo talks about her studies at Dzanga, the current situation there, and what the future might hold, in an interview with the Canadian Broadcast Company. Take a listen:

Space4Eles - January 20, 2014 12:44 PM (GMT)
Then They Came for the Elephants
Violence and poaching in the Congo Basin

Andrea Turkalo is a biologist with the Wildlife Conservation Society. She is based in the Central African Republic but recently had to flee to the United States. She says violence is the latest blow to efforts to save the region's forest elephants. The society's online campaign to conserve elephants is called 96 Elephants.

spiritedlulu - February 8, 2014 02:41 AM (GMT)
The Fate of Forest Elephants: Andrea Turkalo Shares Her Experiences, Insights—and Concerns

Andrea Turkalo is Associate Conservation Scientist at the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and cofounder of Cornell University’s The Elephant Listening Project at The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, in Ithaca, New York.

Turkalo is considered the leading expert on Africa’s reclusive and lesser understood forest elephants. She’s been studying them for more than two decades at her Dzanga Research Camp at the Dzanga-Sangha National Park in Central African Republic (CAR).

spiritedlulu - February 8, 2014 02:44 AM (GMT)
Politics is key to saving Africa's forest elephants

Violent unrest in the Central African Republic is the latest blow to efforts to save the region's forest elephants, says biologist Andrea Turkalo

How did you come to study elephants in the Central African Republic?
It was an accident. I never thought I would study elephants, but I happened to be in the right place about 30 years ago – the Dzanga Bai forest clearing. It is the most phenomenal location to see forest elephants in the world. So I stayed.

Space4Eles - May 8, 2014 02:45 PM (GMT)
Civil War Invades An Elephant Sanctuary: One Researcher's Escape

But that's not the end of the story. Turkalo is now part of an extraordinary operation to protect the surviving forest elephants. It's run by a band of men who, if not exactly soldiers-of-fortune, certainly are trained warriors who can deal not just with poachers, but with civil war, too.

4elephants - May 9, 2014 06:35 AM (GMT)

Just a few hours until Friday Morning Edition on NPR....can't wait to hear about these warriors...

spiritedlulu - October 1, 2014 05:17 PM (GMT)
Sometime in the coming weeks Andrea Turkalo will finally return to Dzanga Bai to pick up the threads of her 23-year effort to study forest elephants and to keep them safe. This image of the bai was taken recently by colleagues - the elephants seem at ease in this place they have come to trust.
It has been 19 months since she had to evacuate. Although the situation in CAR is still not very good, the southern part of the country seems relatively calm and so Andrea is giving it a go. We wish her the best on her return, and trust she will keep herself safe.

spiritedlulu - November 1, 2014 10:14 PM (GMT)
1Nov2014: About 10 hours ago Andrea at last walked up onto the observation platform at Dzanga - after 19 months of exile!
she emailed us saying:

"About 30 elephants in the bai, overcast, and more rain than I have ever seen.
It was a long slog but I am finally here and all is calm. The camp needs a lot of work which I will start after I get the car up and running, looked at it yesterday and it physically looks fine, the ignition is ripped out."

Our thoughts are with you, Andrea!

spiritedlulu - November 22, 2014 08:46 PM (GMT)
Andrea Turkalo writes that progress is being made getting her vehicle running and her camp back in shape - but it is slow and frustrating in the extreme. To recharge, the bai is always a winner. Here is a sequence showing a typical visit to the clearing.

spiritedlulu - May 4, 2015 11:07 PM (GMT)
Elephant Watch

The person who knows forest elephants best is an American researcher in the Central African Republic named Andrea Turkalo. She has spent more than twenty years camped out in Dzanga-Ndoki National Park, near a bai, or clearing, where the elephants congregate in numbers unequalled at any other site. A wryly humorous woman of sixty-three, who wears her hair in a tightly pulled-back bun, Turkalo has gained most of her expertise in the field; her only scientific credential is an undergraduate degree in environmental studies from Antioch College, in Ohio. She spends much of her time alone or in the company of local trackers. When I visited her camp, a few months ago, she told me that she grew up in Taunton, Massachusetts, in a working-class family. Her father, a Second World War veteran, was a guard at the Bridgewater state prison; her mother taught in a school for children with special needs. The Taunton Public Library sustained Andrea from the age of six, and she still checks books out from there electronically and reads two a week on a Nexus tablet. She said that she’d just finished Edvard Radzinsky’s biography of Stalin and Caroline Moorehead’s “A Train in Winter,” a history of French Resistance women imprisoned at Birkenau. “That’s why I like being here,” she said. “You have time to focus on things.”

irishlass - May 6, 2015 02:19 PM (GMT)
Read the article last night, excellent story with more of the dreadful news we all hate to hear, about the poaching and the dwindling numbers. Very interesting details about the terrorist/militant groups that are coming from Sudan and into Congo and the Central African Republic to poach, etc. There seems to be no answers and some interviewed believe it's too little too late to save the species.

spiritedlulu - October 17, 2015 03:32 PM (GMT)
Dzanga Update

Andrea Turkalo has been back at her study site at the Dzanga Clearing in Central African Republic since July. The situation in the country is still very tense and dangerous, but elephant numbers at the clearing seem good and she is cataloging new babies and the return of old friends. Rapacious logging to the north of the reserve, only a dozen kilometers away, poses a grave risk.

spiritedlulu - April 28, 2017 02:48 AM (GMT)
April 2017

Optimism and Vulnerability

On the upsetting and sad side, our amazing colleague, Andrea Turkalo, has had to leave Dzanga and 'her' elephants – for good. Partly this is because, after 27 years, it is impossible for her not to become enmeshed in the numerous, often petty, intrigues fabricated in the village and this is exhausting. But partly it was because she was being threatened by a government official; she'd been instrumental in getting him sacked from his position in the village (for embezzling conservation money).

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