アフリカにほんとうは象が何頭いるのか? データを集める飛行機登場!

Phot by Johanna, Joke Bloem

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名称未設定104

 虎やライオン、象などの大きな動物は豪快で気高い生き物だと、私たちは子供時代に教わります。

 

 

しかし、不幸なことにそれらの多くは現在絶滅の淵に立たされています。

 

およそ100頭の象たちが毎日象牙をとられるために密猟者によって殺されています。そんななかで彼らを密猟と絶滅から救うための地図製作プロジェクトが現在立ち上げられました。

 

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 もう40年もの間アフリカではまともな象の生態調査は行われて来ませんでした。本当のところ私たちはアフリカに何頭の象がいるのかもずっと知りえませんでした。

 

 

しかし2014年2月、『グレートエレファントセンサス』が調査を積極的に乗り出しました。

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http://www.greatelephantcensus.com/the-census

 

画期的なこのプロジェクトの注目すべきポイントはGPS機能のカメラと最新のテクノロジーを搭載した飛行機をアフリカ大陸に2年間飛び続けさせ、飛行機を降下させたときに間近に観察される象の生態を地道に記録としてとり続けることです。

 

この調査ではどこに象が棲息し、消滅し、その消滅の理由も突き止めることが出来ます。

 

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この飛行による調査の利点はまさにその継続性と正確さにあります。

 

正確さのキーポイントは飛行を一定の高さとスピードを保つことです。ちょっとでも早く飛行してしまうと動物を見過ごしてしかねないからです。

 

 

これは2カ年計画で4か月前の今年2月、ようやく計画の半分をクリアしました。その時点で10万マイル(16万キロ)もの飛行を達成し、11カ国にわたる調査を記録しました。

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その結果から数多くの事実が判明しこの調査を行う意義があったことがすでに証明されています。

 

たとえば、あるパークではかつて

 

2万頭の象がいることが呼びものでしたが、実際そこには33頭の象の生存と55頭の象の死体が確認されただけでした。

 

ちなみに象の死体を数えることも調査の重要な部分です。

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悲しい事実も判明しましたが良いニュースもあります。

4つの国ーーボツワナとガボンとナミビアとウガンダーーでは象の数の増加が見られたのです。

 

こうしたアップデートされた調査結果はそのつど政府と科学者のもとに送られます。

すみやかに生態研究と密猟防止の対策のため用いられます。

 

このプロジェクトが象たちを絶滅の危機から少しでも遠ざけることを強く期待したいです。

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