A UBC PhD student has built a sophisticated tracking system that collects, analyzes and reports on the activities of nearly 100 African elephants in an effort to protect these threatened animals and understand their movement patterns.
The tracking system allows real-time visualization of animal movements on Google Earth, providing near instantaneous observation of an animal’s GPS location. Data are recorded by an animal’s tracking collar and transmitted via satellite or a local cell phone network to reveal movement patterns while high-resolution satellite imagery offers insight into their behaviour.
The system is part of a study published in the journal Ecological Applications.
The real-time monitoring system described in the paper has enhanced security for threatened elephants by identifying poaching events. It has also kept elephants out of areas where they are not welcome, such as farmers’ fields, and identified injured elephants allowing for rapid medical response.