Mission: To provide accurate, up-to-date data about the number and distribution of African elephants using standardized aerial surveys of hundreds of thousands of square miles of elephant habitat.
Background: Aerial surveys remain the most effective way to obtain data on the current elephant population in Africa. Unfortunately, collecting this data can be difficult. In many African countries, surveys have not been conducted for at least a decade, and there hasn't been a pan-African census in more than forty years. Recognizing the need, Paul G. Allen and Elephants Without Borders, with support from other organizations and individuals in Africa and around the globe, came up with the idea for the Great Elephant Census. The final report (and database on which the report is based) provides valuable information to governments, scientists, NGOs, and other wildlife stakeholders in Africa involved in making decisions on how to manage and protect wild elephant populations. GEC results also have been shared with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and included in the 2016 African Elephant Status Report (the most recent of its kind), enabling GEC data to be combined with non-GEC information to provide the most complete picture yet of forest and savanna elephant populations on the continent. In addition to informing countries about the status of their elephant populations, the GEC results are being used by the global conservation community to inform future planning (including the allocation of global resources for elephant conservation efforts and tourism-related initiatives); provide a consistent baseline for measuring changes in continental elephant populations; and enhance ongoing research efforts.
Outstanding Web Features: The completed Great Elephant Census counted 352,271 African savanna elephants in the eighteen countries surveyed, a decline of 30 percent (equal to 144,000 elephants) between 2007 and 2014 — an annualized rate of decline of 8 percent. Visitors to the GEC site can use the results map to track elephant population trends over the past ten years and access a snapshot view of the results that also serves as a portal to the final project press release, the report itself, a summary sheet, and census results by country. Visitors also can learn more about the GEC team, explore the vision behind the project, browse a list of key milestones in elephant conservation, check out elephant-based films, and keep abreast of elephant conservation efforts via the site's From the Field blog.