Sim saviour

Sunday 30 November 2008

Move over traditional tracking devices, the cell phone just got handier. Kenyan authorities now have their phones buzzing with text messages from elephants, warning the officials of their unauthorized presence in villagers' crop fields. Bull elephants stray outside the 35,000-hectare Oi Pejeta conservancy borders, raiding crops and wiping out entire six months' harvest at a time. As farmers only have their crops for a livelihood, the Kenyan Wildlife Service was compelled to shoot five of them down. The Save the Elephants Group decided to use the cell phone messaging service as an alternative to killing the animals. The elephants now have mobile phone sim cards inserted into their collars and a virtual 'geofence' has been set up using a global positioning system.

This system tracks the conservatory's boundaries and activates the sim card that automatically sends a text message if they stray near farms. The rangers then use spotlights to frighten the elephants back inside the conservancy. But with elephant numbers increasing, will this measure work for long?

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