Andrea Turkalo, Foremost Expert on Forest Elephants

by | Jul 1, 2015

Andrea Turkalo, of the Wildlife Conservation Society—and considered the world’s leading expert on forest elephants, having studied them for more than two decades in the Central African Republic (CAR)—recounts what initially drew her to the CAR nearly 30 years ago, and how she became interested in elephants. forest-elephants-loxodonta-cyclotis-in-the-dzanga-sangha-reserve-central-african-republic_2c93She addresses some of the reasons that even people who consider themselves elephant aficionados tend to know very little about forest elephants, and where things stand regarding the animals being officially identified as a separate species from savanna elephants. Turkalo spends some time addressing the escalating poaching activity in the area: In part because their tusks are denser (so-called “hot ivory” or “pink ivory”), they’re more sought after—and one report indicated that, mg22129520.200-1_300within a decade, the number of forest elephants had declined by more than 60 percent. She recalls the details of the country’s civil war that, in 2013, forced her to flee her camp and her work. She describes some her research, such as recording and analyzing the elephants’ vocalizations, including sounds that operate at a frequency not able to be detected by human ears. Turkalo looks ahead and assesses the longer-term situation for the forest elephants, making it clear she’s striving to be optimistic about their fate. (,


ALSO: I spoke briefly with Laura Bevan, Southern Regional Director of The Humane Society of the U.S. about last week’s decision by The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to allow what amounts to a trophy hunt on the Florida black bear. This included exploring the puzzling timing of the decision (a complete bear population study isn’t due to be completed by FWC until 2016), what may have been driving the decision—including financial and other implications; for example the hunting license fees–the general composition of the Commission (numerous fishing and hunting enthusiasts) and how to express disappointment and outrage to the Commissioners. (…/fwc-…/senior-staff/contact-commissioners/,

COMEDY CORNER: Tim Harmston’s “Seagull” (

MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,” instrumentals

NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE: Yes’ “The Fish” R.I.P., Chris Squire


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