Keeping Track of Elephants

Keeping Track of Elephants

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 Earthproviding 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.

VIDEO: Watch conservation agents use the technology to protect elephants.



  1. Very cool! As a member and sponsor of Elephanatics, started by Jake and some other local elephant advocates, I had heard about this tracking mechanism but had never seen how it worked.

    Keep up the great work Jake!

  2. Great work. Elephants need all the help they can get and it’s wonderful to see technology working to help these amazing and gentle creatures.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please be aware that comments submitted through this form will appear publicly below this article. Comments may also be published in future print issues of Trek magazine.

Comments are moderated, and may take some time to appear.