Written by Vicki Fishlock, Resident Scientist at the Amboseli Elephant Research Project
Forest elephants live secretive lives in the rainforests of Central Africa. We don’t know much about their lives, and what we do know raises many interesting questions about them. In 2009 we convened a workshop of more than 20 researchers working on forest elephants to share best practice and outline the important research questions for forest elephant conservation. During that workshop, we decided to write a book to collate our knowledge and experience.
At the time I was still working on my PhD. My role during the workshop was as moderator, translator and reporter, and ultimately I was nominated as editor of the book. It turned out it would take longer to produce than my PhD thesis and see my move from Congo to Kenya. During that time elephant populations have been hammered by demand for ivory, especially in the Central African forests.
Holding this book in my hands for the first time has been extraordinary. At times I wondered if it would ever be completed, and if it were would it be too late to make a significant contribution to helping elephants. I hope not, and thanks to the work of IFAW and others the tide may at last be turning for elephants and the ivory trade. Now we can hope that the book will be used to study recovering populations, and inspire a new generation of biologists and managers.
The book covers everything we could think of to build responsible projects that contribute to elephant survival. It represents the hard work and dedication of many people, who made time to share their experiences while working more-than-full-time on their own projects. We are all dedicated to and fascinated by elephants, and we hope this shines through the pages.
I have to thank IFAW for supporting the translation of this volume (because my written French is definitely not up to standard!) and Rettet die Elefanten Afrikas e.V. who supported the publication and turned the computer files into a real book.
The book is available in English and French from REA’s website www.reaev.de/shop. The proceeds go to support elephant conservation projects in the field.
(This article originally appeared on IFAW. It has been reprinted here with permission.)