Nouabalé-Ndoki (The Congo)

Forest elephants


  • Country: Republic of Congo (Brazzaville)
  • Location: Nouabale-Ndoki National Park
  • Forest elephant population:
  • Project name: Elephant Listening Project
  • Project overview:
    •       This project involves using hidden sound recorders in the forest to monitor forest elephant populations and movements; gunshots from illegal hunting and poaching; and to record the biodiversity in the Park.

The Nouabalé-Ndoki Habitat

The Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park (NNNP) is located in northern Republic of Congo (Brazzaville) and covers more than 4,000 square kilometres of contiguous lowland rainforest. NNNP is part of the larger Sangha Tri-National Forest Landscape, which was nominated as a World Heritage Site in July 2012. It is an important stronghold for forest elephants as well as other large mammals such as western lowland gorillas and chimpanzees. This park also contains forest clearings, or ‘bais’, that offer a glimpse into the lives of the elusive forest elephants.

Elephant listening Project

Our Projects

The Elephant Listening Project

Forest elephants frequent forest clearings where they access dissolved minerals, socialise, and find mates. However, long-term studies indicate that forest elephants only spend a very small proportion of their time in these clearings. Although these clearings give us a glimpse into forest elephants secretive lives, we still do not know very much about their lives beneath the canopies of deep impenetrable forests. What do they do and where do they go the rest of the time?

Cornell University’s Elephant Listening Project and WCS-Congo have implemented a unique method using hidden microphones in the forest to monitor forest elephant populations and movements, pinpoint the gunshots of poachers, and record the biodiversity in the Park.

Elephant Listening Project

Over the last two years the ELP has established the largest grid of acoustic sensors ever attempted in a tropical forest. With 50 sensors lsitening to 1,250 square km of rainforest they are recording in unprecedented detail where elephants are moving in this landscape and, to some degree, what they are doing there. The acoustic recorders also record the activities and location of ivory poachers and can map where they are and when.

By counting vocalisations across a grid of microphones, the project aims to estimate the number of elephants and follow their movements in response to food availability, hunting pressures, and logging activity. The project also aims to improve the efficacy of anti-poaching efforts in the region. Across Central Africa, anti-poaching patrols have become increasingly important to reduce the illegal killing of elephants and other wildlife. However, assessing where and when these patrols would be most effective, and evaluating the effectiveness of alternative patrols strategies has been difficult in the past.

The acoustic monitoring will now provide data on both forest elephant movements as well as hunting and poaching patterns over time. This data will then positively contribute to the tactical deployment of anti-poaching teams in different areas.

acoustic grid

With these data, the Elephant Listening Project has created maps for the first time showing where the elephants are within the forest, and where the poachers are finding them. These new technologies reveal key information to help managers of protected areas to fight against poaching. Your support helps the Cornell Lab use the science of sound to understand and protect wildlife around the world.

How can you make an impact?

Boots on the Ground

No gift is too small to make an impact. This can help provide the team with critical equipment such as socks, waterproof boots, and rain jackets.


Help provide the team with vital equipment such as headlamps, sleeping bags, and sleeping pads while they trek through the forest to protect the elephants.

Food costs

The team spends 150 days of the year traveling through rough rainforest terrain in order to maintain the acoustic grid. Support the whole team (food and per diems) for a day in the forest with a gift of this amount.

Acoustic grid

Help purchase supplies such as 256 GB SD cards and batteries to keep the acoustic grid running so that we can continue to monitor gunshots and the movement of the elephants throughout the forest.

Keep the team hydrated

Staying hydrated is important when covering a 1,250 square km area. Help us replace water-purification filters for the team working in the forest.

Capacity building

Cover the cost of a two-week training workshop at the park headquarters in Bomassa, as ELP members continue to teach new skills to the team leaders.

Support the team

Support two members of the acoustic team (salary & benefits) for one month of the year.

Support the team

A gift of this amount will cover the salary and benefits for one team member for the entire year.