GSM/GPS based elephant tracking at The Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya

Katharine Houreld has filed an AP story describing how the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, a private game reserve ranch in Kenya and Save the Elephants, an NGO dedicated to the survival of the species are using the combination of a GSM/GPS based home brew animal collar solution to track and monitor movements of elephants and other animals.

A pilot project placed an electonic collar containing GPS and GSM units on Kimani, a bull elephant who was the last surviving member of a 5 elephant group with a penchant for raiding farms to eat crops. This collar allowed park rangers to track the elephant’s movements using Google Earth / Google Maps. The project also allowed park authorities to monitor animal locations at all times and acted as a deterrent against the poaching of this important resource.

Crop raiding is a huge problem on farms bordering parks and reserves as a herd of elephants or other animals can wipe out entire crops on a single night destroying the livelihoods of the farm owners.

Ol Pejeta: Elephant

The coolest side benefit of the product though was when the project team figured out that they could create a virtual “geo-fence” and trigger alerts whenever Kimani the elephant stepped outside this virtual fence – an occurrence that indicated that he was probably on his way to a village to carry out some crop raiding.

The set up used a hardware and software solution that sends text based messages in real time with location data over GSM to park rangers whenever Kimani approaches a park fence that is close to a farm.

This is yet another great example of why the use of mobile phones continue to be the computing platform of choice in many ingenious and innovative homebrew technology solutions in Africa.

Click through the links below to articles and video about this project.

How Save the Elephants is using Google Earth / Google Maps to track elephant movements.

Video on how the solution works

11 comments » Write a comment

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  4. This concept is being tested on elephants and is one of several radiotracking solutions for research – in another experiment satellite collars that talk to each other were being deployed on zebra and lions – the data therefore giving information on what predators and prey are doing in relation to one another. The Elephant GSM tracking will be extended to other endangered species … thanks to Safaricoms support.

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  6. LOL! I had the same idea of using cheap gsm tracking devices some time ago…nice to see it implemented by some smart ppl! It certainly helps to reduce costs as you already have the base stations installed and can thus save on the triangulation procedure + have a constant monitoring.

  7. Thanks for writing about this, I heard about it on the World Tech podcast, where it was referred to as Geo-Fencing. Its a very cool story

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