For example, when the killing of Africa’s savanna elephants accelerated dramatically due to increased global demand for ivory, Paul funded an unprecedented aerial survey aptly named the Great Elephant Census. It was the first of its kind in more than 40 years, and the first coordinated, standardized count ever attempted. It brought together more than 90 scientists, 286 flight crew members, and various NGOs to survey nearly 600,000 square miles in 18 different countries.
The project’s success, and its sobering results, led his team to create and deploy EarthRanger in 2016. It’s an online software solution that lets park rangers track movements of wildlife, rangers, vehicles, and intrusions in real time — no small task since the regions being monitored are vast (in many cases, tens of thousands of square kilometers). But with EarthRanger, the data from hundreds of digital radios, animal collars, vehicle trackers, and sensors are compiled and transformed into actionable graphics and visualizations. This gives officials and protected area managers the ability to deploy resources quickly and efficiently when they’re needed and where they’re needed. For example, if a snare is discovered or an elephant enters a human settlement, the closest rangers can be dispatched immediately.