GPS Tracking Used In Malaysian Elephant Conservation Efforts

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GPS technology is once again being used in wildlife conservation efforts; this time in Malaysia. Malaysian Elephants are listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The elephants face many threats, including poachers and dwindling habitat. A research group was recently granted the equivalent of $1,063,460 to study the elephants in hopes to preserve these great animals. The grant will be used to access advanced GPS tracking collars for the animals to study their movements and behaviors from a distance. The researchers will also be studying the elephant’s feces for information about their health.

“The generous donation from Sime Darby will help us develop a conservation strategy based on scientifically sound knowledge of elephant behavior, ecology and a clear understanding of the underlying causes of human-elephant conflict,” said Dr. Ahimsa Campos-Arceiz of The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus, leader of the research project. “Our aim is to fit 50 elephants with satellite tracking devices to monitor how they are responding to the changes in their habitat, how they react to translocation – one of the practices used to move elephants away rom areas of human-elephant conflict and what effect current conservation measures such as highway viaducts and wildlife corridors are having on the elephant population on the Malay Peninsular.”

“In other parts of the world where translocation of elephants is practiced as a mitigating measure against [human-elephant conflict], scientists observed high death rates and competition for resources and space at the release site. Translocated elephants have also been observed traveling back to their captured sites or their original home range, hampering the original objective of translocating the animals in the first place,” explained Yayasan Sime Darby Governing Council Member Caroline Christine Russell.

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Marisa O'Connor

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