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The Floppy Trunk Expeditions


Welcome to The Floppy Trunk Expeditions! Combining technology and tribal wisdom to discover the cause, range, and extent of Floppy Trunk Syndrome in wild African elephants. This site has been established as a not-for-profit public service resource by Kubu Communications.

Floppy Trunk Syndrome (FTS) is the paralysis of an elephant's trunk. Appearing only recently, and because the number of elephants afflicted with Floppy Trunk Syndrome is relatively small (unknown), there has been little field research and virtually no funding available to help determine the cause, range, or extent of this deadly condition.

The Floppy Trunk Expeditions will be conducting a five-country sweep between August 2000 and March 2001 to determine the geographical range of the disease. While all confirmed reports of Floppy Trunk Syndrome have been isolated in Zimbabwe, both elephants and plants migrate (habitat pressure, seed dispersal, etc.) and unconfirmed sightings have been reported in South Africa and Tanzania. Additionally, because of the rare nature of the syndrome, it is easily overlooked or mistakenly identified as a minor injury either from fighting or the result of a poacher's snare. In the process of determining the range and extent of FTS, the expedition will enlist the aid of indigenous tribal healers to observe and identify any toxic/exotic vegetation suspected of being the root cause of the paralysis.

How serious is the problem?

Approximately 30 elephants have been documented with FTS over the past ten years. Unfortunately, we believe that for every one documented, there might be 10 or more in stages too early to identify, which means there could be several hundred afflicted elephants. And if the cause is determined to be toxic vegetation, the problem could conceivably spread to other areas and species as well.

Tracking elephants on foot in Zimbabwe.

Tracking elephants on foot in Zimbabwe. Notice the perfectly normal and graceful curve to the above elephant's trunk compared to "Choke", below, an elephant afflicted with Floppy Trunk Syndrome.


The Floppy Trunk Expeditions are sponsored by The Explorers Club, the Abercrombie & Kent Global Foundation, the Conservation Corporation, and the family of Reeve Lindbergh - in honor of her parent's (Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh's) legacy in wildlife conservation. The Floppy Trunk Expeditions welcomes individual and corporate support. For more information about tax-deductible contributions, please request a full expedition prospectus.