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Interactive Conservation Study Links Botswana Elephants to the World





Making great strides to stamp out extinction and protect Africa’s largest elephant population, the San Diego Zoo launches Project Elephant Footprint in partnership with Botswana-based Elephants Without Borders. This unique Web-based campaign generates support for efforts by the San Diego Zoo’s Institute for Conservation Research efforts to track and study African elephant herds in southern Africa. It also offers the public an opportunity to help protect the world’s largest mammal while providing an exclusive tool to examine the movements of these elephants along with researchers.

“Project Elephant Footprint allows everyone to join this conservation effort and become active members of our team,” said Michael Chase, a San Diego Zoo’s Institute for Conservation Research postdoctoral scientist and founder of Elephants Without Borders. “It’s one of the best ways to get involved without having to use your passport.”

The San Diego Zoo is offering individuals around the world the opportunity, with a click of a mouse, to experience the first-ever interactive migration study. Participants can connect with the cause by sponsoring the footprint of one of three elephants from different herds currently being tracked using GPS collars in Botswana today.

This Web-based initiative centers on the protection and study of Africa’s largest elephant population, more than 220,000 animals strong and representing nearly half of the elephants left in Africa. Interested sponsors can visit the Project Elephant Footprint Web site at and purchase an elephant footprint for $150 or $12.50 a month for one year.  Footprints are available from three GPS-collared elephants currently referred to as The Shy One, The Great Bull, and Rainbow Spirit.

The Shy One is a seemingly calm young female in her early 20s that was found among a herd of 40 elephants hidden in trees along the Zambezi River in Namibia. The Great Bull is a robust male in his 30s that was found unexpectedly in a large herd of more than 300 elephants. Adult male elephants typically are not found in elephant herds except during breeding seasons and yet The Great Bull was in the midst of females and their offspring in Namibia. Rainbow Spirit is the matriarch of a 15-member herd, the first congregation of elephants recorded to have returned to Angola after a civil war.

Elephant footprint sponsorship benefits include:

·         An Elephant Footprint Kit with information about the adopted elephant.

·         Exclusive access to blog updates by Michael Chase, who was born and raised in Botswana, witnessing the changes in elephant populations since his childhood days on safari.

·         Ability to monitor a GPS-collared elephant around the clock via the Internet.

·         Real-time tweet updates from Botswana via the San Diego Zoo Trumpet on Twitter.

·         A chance to vote on a name for the adopted elephant.

·         The opportunity to participate in a San Diego Zoo tour to Botswana in the summer of 2010, where individuals who adopted an elephant will get to track and possibly help radio collar an elephant with Chase.

            Project Elephant Footprint reinforces the need to protect and learn more about what can be done to keep this important population of elephants from extinction. The San Diego Zoo’s new multispecies habitat, The Harry and Grace Steele Elephant Odyssey, involves a combination of elements of a traditional zoo and natural history museum. Set to open May 23, it will feature living relatives of animal species now extinct that dotted the Southern California landscape more than 12,000 years ago, such as elephants, lions and California condors. For more information on Project Elephant Footprint visit

The 100-acre San Diego Zoo is dedicated to the conservation of endangered species and their habitats. The organization focuses on conservation and research work around the globe, educates millions of individuals a year about wildlife and maintains accredited horticultural, animal, library and photo collections. The Zoo also manages the 1,800-acre San Diego Zoo's Wild Animal Park, which includes a 900-acre native species reserve, and the San Diego Zoo's Beckman Center for Conservation Research. The important conservation and science work of these entities is supported in part by The Foundation of the Zoological Society of San Diego.

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