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Remote sensor captures sound of ivory poacher shooting an elephant

A sensor used by researchers to capture low-frequency communication between elephants inadvertently recorded the audio of an elephant being gunned down by a poacher in Gabon, reports the Wildlife Conservation Society, which used the sound byte in a video highlighting the carnage of the ivory trade.

The video was released today as part of WCS’s 96 Elephants campaign, which is named after the estimated daily death toll for elephant ivory. Some 35,000 elephants are believed to have been killed in 2012 alone. Overall, since 1980, African elephant populations have fallen by more than three-quarters, according to WCS.

WCS’s 96 Elephants campaign supports the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) September 2013 commitment to stop the slaughter of Africa’s elephants.

While the sensor that captured the gunshot was only recovered months after the poaching incident took place, conservationists elsewhere are developing audio-based technologies that enable real-time action against poachers and illegal loggers. For example, Rainforest Connection has designed a system that uses discarded mobile phones as the basis for an alert system. Placed in forests, the devices are set to recognize the audio signatures of chainsaws and gunshots. When a suspect sound is detected, the device relays an alert to local authorities.

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