Joyce Poole, Ph.D.
I grew up in Kenya and began studying African elephants at the age of 19 in Amboseli National Park as a member of the Amboseli Elephant Research Project - the longest study of elephants in the world. My Amboseli research became the focus of my undergraduate honors thesis at Smith College, my Cambridge University doctoral dissertation as well as my post-doctoral research at Princeton University. My fascination with elephants led to key discoveries about their social and sexual lives and their communicative and cognitive abilities.
In the late 1980s, as ivory poaching intensified, my focus shifted to elephant conservation. From 1990-1994 I headed the Elephant Program of Kenya Wildlife Service, where I was responsible for elephant conservation and management throughout Kenya. Thereafter, I returned to Amboseli to continue research into elephant communication. In 2000, my husband, Petter Granli, and I founded ElephantVoices – a non-profit organization dedicated to the protection and welfare of elephants through research and the sharing of knowledge. In 2010 we started an elephant conservation project in the Maasai Mara ecosystem based on web technology and citizen science.
I was invited to Gorongosa National Park in 2011 to assess the elephants and to begin a process of habituation. Habituating Gorongosa’s elephants to tourist vehicles is important because without income earned from visitors, this beautiful, biodiverse habitat cannot be protected. A year later ElephantVoices began a monitoring program to establish a foundation of information on the Gorongosa elephants upon which future research and conservation can be based.
I feel proud to be part of the initiative to protect Gorongosa’s unique ecosystem and its extraordinary elephants. The population offers an opportunity to study elephants of unusual character and resilience who hold lessons for the future survival of elephants. I have already come to love their strong, indomitable personalities and Petter and I look forward to building their trust and learning from them.