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November 26, 2013       By Salvatore Cardoni
      Sal holds a Political Science degree from the George Washington University. He’s written about all things environment since 2007.
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Thirty seconds, give or take.

That is approximately how long I was able to listen to an audio recording of poachers shooting an elephant to death in Gabon before I had to hit my laptop’s mute button.

Released on YouTube on Nov. 20, the recording is part of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s “96 Elephants” anti-poaching campaign, which takes its name from the daily rate at which the pachyderms are butchered in Africa.

Terrifying as it is, the recording began innocently enough. Earlier this year, researchers from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Elephant Listening Project left remote recording devices in the forests of Gabon as part of a project to study pachyderm communication. It…

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