by James Neely
Wildlife monitoring has been an accomplishment of those who love animals and are concerned not only for their well-being, but also in helping enforce laws that protect them.
Iain Douglas-Hamilton knows firsthand about the struggle to keep wildlife safe. First, he loves elephants. And because of that love, he is dedicated to help protect them from poaching and the gathering of tusks illegally as well as helping to find ways to encourage the species to thrive in its own habitat.
Over 20 years ago a worldwide ban was imposed on harvesting and selling ivory. This slowed the slaughter of African elephants to a trickle.
But with the global economy in a mess, demand has reappeared evidenced by resurgence in illegal activities that are threatening elephant populations around the world.
Iain has gathered much information on Elephants and their habits and habitats. So much so that he founded an organization called Save the Elephants and has won a prize for conservation which includes a $100,000 award from the 2010 Indianapolis (Indiana) Prize for conservation. This represents the largest gift of its kind in the world.
The gathering of information has been a slow and steady progress and has involved the use of GPS Tracking technology. Elephants have been outfitted with large tracking collars that allows Iain and his staff to monitor their movements. Now they can watch a herd from a distance (over the Internet) and study their movements.
“Elephants vote with their feet,” says Douglas-Hamilton. “They go to places they feel safe.”
When the movement patterns change, Iain looks for poaching activities. Also, other environmental activities can play a part in the movement of herds. For example, floods and wildfires force movement to safer grounds.
With the GPS Tracking devices attached, observers can watch for movements of herds and they can also set geo-fences so that if the herd breaks a boundary, alerts will be set off so that monitors can be made aware.
It’s an on-going project and one that joins with many others around the world to protect wildlife by providing a watchful eye from afar. Poaching activities will be strongest where the profits are the greatest. Ivory is very expensive and brings a high price on the black market. But, the impact of GPS Tracking nevertheless helps keep the activity from running out of control.
Local authorities and governments may not have the ability to monitor for illegal activities, but that’s where people like Iain come into play. Their tireless work and assistance to help keep wildlife safe is of great benefit to all of us.