Elephant DNA database

Charity

THE ELEPHANT GENOME PROJECT

Do you love Africa?

Do you love elephants?

Do you feel helpless that they are disappearing? 

Well so do we.
 

Join us to do something pro-active to protect our beautiful elephants in South Africa.

Approximately 150 000 African elephants have been lost in the last decade.  Numbers continue to decline in the face of poaching, human/elephant conflict and inbreeding. 

Whilst we wait for governments and authorities to intervene with effective legislation and technologies, we want to do our bit to ensure that the species survives. Do you want to help? 

We would like to create a DNA database of the South African elephant population to safeguard the future of the species.

 

SPONSOR A DNA SAMPLE FOR R600

 

WHY WE NEED A DNA DATABASE

  • To monitor inbreeding - genetic data as well as individual characteristics and family history will be documented. Knowing which elephants are related and which may have compromised immunity from inbreeding is important to have healthy herds.
     
  • To prevent poaching - the illegal wildlife trade is now the fourth largest international organized crime. Being able to link ivory finds to specific elephants in specific areas assists authorities in identifying poaching hotspots and act to prevent further poaching.
     
  • To identify the Big Tusker gene - Due to rife poaching and over hunting of big tuskers, elephants with smaller tusks or no tusks at all are being born. Identifying the Big Tusker gene will help us protect it and identify the conditions necessary for it to survive.
     

THE PROJECT TEAM

The genetic laboratory itself is located at the National Zoological Gardens Pretoria. Establishing the laboratory in South Africa empowers the South African people to monitor and protect their wildlife without having to rely on outside countries. In addition, scientists and environmentalists at the gardens are experienced in data collection and the central location close to the University of Pretoria offers potential for student involvement. 

The Rory Hensman Conservation Research Unit (RHCRU), a non-profit organisation focused on elephant research and promoting the benefits of elephants to human society and wildlife conservation efforts, will aid with the darting of elephants. In addition, RHCRU have played a pivotal role in forging relations with community members for participation in this project. 

North Carolina State University is providing the DNA processing equipment for the laboratory, as well as creating the secure Cloud database on which all information will be stored.

 

HOW IS DNA OBTAINED?

A dart gun will be used to obtain skin samples. The animals do not need to be anesthetized. The dart enters the skin and then falls on the ground. It has a dye which will mark the elephant so scientists can know that particular animal has already been sampled. The dye also has a small amount of antibiotic to promote healing of the small incision on the skin.

Sampling will be done in Kwazulu Natal, North West and Gauteng

 

DO SOMETHING SPECIAL FOR WORLD ELEPHANT DAY : SPONSOR A DNA SAMPLE FOR R600

(Photo credit : Shannon Wild)

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