CSI’s Fight Ivory, Help National Security Across the Continent

Elephants play a larger role in the national security and stability of countries in Africa than most realize. Elephants are an integral part of the forest ecosystem, and when they are driven out through poaching the forests can easily disappear. These forests, which for years have held topsoil in place when intense rains pour down, are the only things preventing the fertile soil of many nations from washing into the ocean.

Haiti, which has had issues of deforestation for years, is in economic turmoil because the tsunami of 2010 pushed most of the fertile soil out into the ocean. This in turn makes farming in the region nearly impossible; causing a food shortage that further destabilizes a country still reeling from a massive earthquake.

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But, with the help of DNA technology and bloodhound training from CSI experts, the ivory trade is helping to alleviate some of these problems. Researchers from the University of Washington and Interpol tracked a majority of illegally obtained ivory to two relatively small regions in East and Central Africa. These hot spots for poaching are typically game reserves or national parks, with a large population of elephants to draw from and frustratingly underpowered infrastructure to combat poaching.

But government agencies are utilizing CSI expertise to begin to combat these poachers, and they’re using bloodhounds to track them. Crime scene investigators worldwide have long used bloodhounds in investigations to track and identify suspects. The Congohound’s are a unit of nationals who use tracking dogs to pursue ivory and the poachers who steal it, and they’re benefiting from CSI training.

Between the DNA extraction technology, and the exceptional training of crime scene investigators, the poachers who would illegally kill and harvest ivory from African elephants will have a much harder time doing so. And that means healthier environments, which means more natural resources to help lift African nations out of poverty and engage with the global community.