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Archive of SEPGuides (5.1.2017): Elephant Trunk

Elephant Photo Galleries

Research articles

Articles Relating to Conservation and Elephants

Useful Links

Web links to various sites concerning conservation.

Kit Description

The Elephant Trunk contains The Elephant Project curriculum and the supplementary resources to enrich The Elephant Project experience. This problem-based curriculum integrates Internet research, DNA analysis, and bioethical issues as students track down the origins of a piece of confiscated ivory. Students discover how modern biomolecular research tools can help conserve a species, in this case the African elephant.

SEP teachers and staff collaborated in developing this learning experience in 2000. Like most SEP kits, it offers a menu of options so that teachers can modify the materials and protocols to match their teaching situation. 

To learn more about the current status of African elephant populations and to understand the methods used by staff at the UW Center for Conservation Biology, use the links to current articles and web resources in the boxes below.



  • SEP Teachers must attend a training workshop to sign up for an Elephant Trunk.
  • The Elephant Trunk does NOT contain the DNA or the gel electrophoresis equipment necessary to teach The Elephant Project. SEP teachers should sign up for a Gel Electrophoresis kit or supplies in addition to an Elephant Trunk.

Elephant Ivory Curriculum


These are a few scenarios for setting up the RFLP lab. In the most common one "Who Dung It?" students act as agents tasked with testing Ivory that your grandparents bought on a trip to China. 

Here are alternate scenarios developed by other SEP teachers. If you are interested in using these scenarios you'll may need extra reagents for matching evidence.

Elephant RFLP Lab Protocols

In this lab students will use lambda DNA, markers, and restriction enzymes to simulate what scientists would do when trying to identify if an ivory sample is legal or poached.



Elephant Poaching Youtube Playlists

Background information on Sam Wasser

Meet Trip Jennings as he helps Sam Wasser protect elephants.

Conserving African Elephants

Roosevelt High School student Bonnie Henwood made this fantastic video, Conserving African Elephants, for the 2012 BioExpo.

Additional Web Resources

The SEP Elephant Trunk curriculum is based on the groundbreaking work of the University of Washington's Dr. Sam Wasser. Here are several links concerning his conservation work.

Links to maps