The long-term future of one of the world's most endangered
species now is a little more secure, thanks to the global
positioning system (GPS) network of satellites.
Rangers in the Kenya Wildlife Service, whose job it is to
protect elephants, have turned to space technology in their
battle to prevent ivory poachers from killing the country's
dwindling number of pachyderms.
Produced by Lotek Engineering Inc. of Ontario, Canada, the
equipment is fitted to the elephant courtesy of a giant
collar, enabling the rangers to track the movements of the
animals via a laptop computer. Lotek specializes in designing
sensors and transmitters to monitor wildlife ranging from
salmon to caribou, and now elephants. Each elephant
tracking device costs around $7,000 and features a lithium
battery, a GPS antenna and a VHF transmitter, all worn as a
huge high-tech, life-saving necklace by the elephant.
In Kenya alone, poachers butchered an estimated 147,000 elephants
during the 1970s and 1980s, reducing the current herds to a
mere 27,000. However, apart from preventing the ruthless
ivory poachers from achieving their evil goals, the rangers
also are hoping that they will be able to use the GPS collars
to learn more about elephants' habits; this hopefully will
enhance future protective measures and ensure the world's
largest land mammal is preserved for generations to come.
Defense Daily, 3 August 1998
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