Kenyan Researchers Protect Elephants With GPS

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A variety of factors threaten the survival of the majestic elephant despite efforts by various national parks, like Kenya’s Tsavo East National Park, to preserve them.  Even with 11,747 square kilometers to roam, over 12,000 elephants are jeopardized by drought, habitat loss, and poaching.

Using GPS collars, park officials plan to study the animals’ movements throughout the oldest and largest of Africa’s national parks.

This is a joint effort between the Kenyan Wildlife Service (KWS) and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). Researchers will study 8 male and 8 female elephants for 20 months.

“The collar that we just fitted has a GPS component and a VHF component,” said Elphos Bitok, a KWS research scientist.

“The GPS component communicates with the satellite and the satellite will relay back the information via Internet where you can be able to assess on real-time basis where the elephant is.”

The rangers claim that GPS tracking collars will help keep the elephants safe from the threat of poachers and conversely, aid humans that may come in direct contact with an elephant (one of the world’s most dangerous animals) to divert disaster.  Researchers wish to find effective ways to step in to help a human who is under threat of elephant aggression.

IFAW is footing the bill, its president/CEO Fred O’Regan claiming it is more costly to lose elephants than to save them.  He says they also plan to study the elephants’ migratory habits, as they tend to follow a certain path, destroying anything along the way.  This will tell them exactly what land must be preserved to ensure their survival, yet at the same time, keep villages safe from the threat of being destroyed by a herd of migrating elephants.

Will this technology be the thing that saves the species, or will this lead to elephants overcrowding spaces and attacking other species?  Reports of elephants attacking other species have recently come from another one of Africa’s wildlife reserves (Kruger National Park).

Overcrowding or not, these wildlife preserves are the last chance in today’s world for elephant survival.  GPS tracking collars could be the best way to save the species man’s greed almost annihilated.

Do you think that GPS tracking collars are an effective way to save elephants?

Article Written by Khristen Foss

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