GPS & Technology Innovation Helps to Protect Endangered Species

It is crucial for companies to focus on creating groundbreaking technology through extensive research and design work in order to achieve future growth in a competitive market. New innovations don’t only give a competitive advantage but can help transform our world for the better, particularly those companies who are developing technology to help with environmental & humanitarian issues.

GPS Collars for Endangered Elephants

A recent research innovation that has greatly influenced the world of environmental research and development. At the University of Nottingham in 2012, the Management & Ecology of Malaysian Elephants (MEME), developed a GPS smart collar to keep track of endangered elephants. By tracking these animals’ movements, park rangers, non-profits, and government initiatives can observe changes in elephant habits, as well as policing poaching activity. This amazing idea was expanded and developed a few years later by the kenyan non-profit Save the Elephants, and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s Vulcan. 

Elephant Tracking

Tracking Poachers

Poaching is the number one reason for the decline in Elephant species populations globally. Elephants are hunted for their tusks, sold on in the ivory trade. Despite their best efforts, many reserve park rangers struggle to catch poachers due to the sheer size of Elephant conservation reserves. 

The creation of these GPS collars will allow rangers to track poaching activity much easier. As the data is real-time, rangers can detect when elephants stop (may be dead), slow down (injured), or are in a danger zone where poaching is rife. The collars also are able to immediately alert rangers when the elephant is “streaking,” meaning it is moving quickly as it is in danger.  

Wider Impact on Biodiversity

By diminishing poaching habits, rising elephant numbers will greatly contribute to the biodiversity of the wildlife around them. MEME founder Ahimsa Campos-Arceiz explains the importance of elephants: 

“If we lose the elephants we lose a unique element of tropical ecosystems. When elephants walk they trample the soil and impact the forest in a way that no other animal does. When elephants eat, they modify the structure of vegetation, releasing plant parts that can be consumed by other herbivores. When elephants eat fruits, they disperse seeds.”

“Ultimately, elephants create habitat heterogeneity and promote forest regeneration. All this will be lost and we will have a much more simplified ecosystem that is less resilient and has lost a lot of its diversity.”

Essentially, Elephants are the gardeners of the environment. They are crucial in ensuring forest regeneration and stable biodiversity. Campos-Arceiz’s article for BioTropica expands on this. 

Not only will this improve the wider environment’s biodiversity, but this improvement will be trackable due to the GPS collars. 

Elephant Tracking App

Why is this Important?

So, not only are these collars important in protecting elephants, but by doing so, these collars protect other endangered species that benefit from elephants. These collars ensure a reduction in violent crime against elephants by poachers. The hard data collected will also make it easier for non-profits and rangers to demonstrate to governments the importance of adopting a stronger and harsher stance on poaching activity. 

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