African elephant populations are shrinking at devastating rates. The poverty-stricken citizens of Africa have succumbed to killing elephants for the profitability of their ivory tusks. Shipped to dealers in Asia and sold for thousands of dollars, the black market ivory trade has developed into an international storm of crime and destruction. National parks in Africa are reaping the consequences, with elephant populations dwindling by the hundreds every year. Legislative attempts to halt poaching have been largely unsuccessful due to the lack of resources and enforcement. Customized conservation programs are valuable in the race to save African elephants. These programs use law enforcement, wildlife monitoring, and community participation to target a specific area and implement a customized solution to tackle that area’s poaching problem. For my undergraduate thesis, I have designed a potential conservation initiative for Kafue National Park, located in Zambia. The park has been losing elephants to poachers within a ten-kilometer radius of a dam known as Lake Itezhi Tezhi. The implementation of a four-step, customized conservation plan would increase the park’s surveillance of elephant and human activity along the lake’s shoreline, and would ideally eliminate any opportunity to poach in that area.
Semester/Year of Award
Mentor Professional Affiliation
Restricted Access Thesis
Banks, Rebecca M., "Elephant Lifeguards: Working with Park Management to Reduce Poaching in Kafue National Park, Zambia" (2016). Honors Theses. 391.
A Google Earth image of Kibale Forest National Park, Uganda provides an example of forest fragmentation due to human expansion
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A representation of illegal ivory seizures in Asia by Brian Christy, head of Special Investigations Unit of National Geographic Magazine
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This image portrays the extent of elephant poachings that were taking place within the National Parks of Africa in 2011
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This map of Kafue National Park highlights the central location of Lake Itezhi Tezhi Dam and emphasizes the accessibility of the park
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This fire tower in New Hampshire is what the lifeguard towers around Lake Itezhi Tezhi will be modeled after