Many may never get a chance to experience Africa's rainforests first-hand, but that doesn’t mean getting a sense of their atmosphere is a lost cause. Thanks to Cornell University, over 1 million hours of sounds from the Republic of Congo have been made available to researchers—and it’s not strictly for educational purposes.
The school’s Elephant Listening Project and director Peter Wrege set up more than 50 microphones in the Republic of Congo’s Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park, an area of rainforest covering over 480 square miles. Installed since 2017, the equipment has picked up the sounds of everything from gorillas to elephants.
The purpose of the project is to monitor the elephant population, and by extension, poaching activity in the region. Using the acoustic record, researchers can track when poachers are in the area and determine if anti-poaching measures have been effective. As anti-poaching patrols ticked up in 2018, for example, the sound of gunshots—indicating poachers—decreased.
Wrege believes audio monitoring can help scientists track endangered species like the African grey parrot or help determine when and what animals may be eating.
Of course, the Republic of Congo’s sounds are interesting to listen to on their own. Researchers can access the audio archive, while Amazon Web Services has made a selection of the audio available to anyone.
[h/t National Geographic]