Can you pay an elephant to fight climate change?
Countries and businesses pay billions of dollars to offset their carbon dioxide emissions, transferring money to projects like forest or wetland restoration. But these markets have generally ignored wildlife, which are often critically important to the growth of their ecosystems.
For instance, researchers have found that if central Africa’s critically endangered forest elephants were to die out, the Congo Basin rainforest would shrink considerably. And that would be a disaster for the planet, which depends on those trees removing carbon from the atmosphere.
We traveled to Gabon to meet up with researchers studying the world’s largest remaining population of forest elephants, and spoke with experts finding innovative solutions to fund these animals’ conservation: creating a market that pays the elephants for the services they provide, to invest in rangers and local communities who can protect them.