GPS Devices Used To Track Wild African Elephants In Kenya

CC Image courtesy of SarahDepper on Flickr
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Here at the RMT blog, we’ve posted many stories about GPS technology being used to track wildlife. GPS devices allow researchers to monitor the movement and behavior of wildlife from a distance. This method of tracking is ideal because it doesn’t require human presence to witness the animals’ behavior. Firstly, it is very difficult for researchers to gather so much information when relying on their eyes and ears alone. Secondly, the GPS tracking devices let the wildlife move more naturally without being disturbed by human sights, smells and sounds.


One of the more recent applications of GPS wildlife tracking is taking place in and around the Amboseli National Park in Kenya. The International Fund for Animal Welfare School of Field Studies teamed up with Kenya Wildlife Services to tracking and study elephants in the area. Kenya currently has an estimated elephant population of around 37,000. This particular study has cost around $100,000 U.S. and will follow six elephants for a 20-month period. There are a total of 60 elephants in Kenya being monitored with GPS devices in similar studies.


In order to track these massive animals, veterinarians from Kenya Wildlife Services locate a herd of elephants in or near Amboseli National Park via helicopter. The vets shoot one or more of the elephants with a tranquilizer gun, assess the general health of the animal and then equip it with a GPS tracking collar. These studies are done as a part of a wider elephant conservation effort. The tracking technology allows researchers to study the real-time migratory patterns among other information which is used to better determine the needs of these great creatures. The more information researchers have about elephants, the better the chances of protecting the species from endangerment and extinction.

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Marisa O'Connor

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