Kenya is the first country to experiment with elephant text messaging in an attempt to protect its villagers and the roaming herds of elephants who have long had to compete for increasingly limited space. The human-elephant conflict has been to the devastation of both groups, with months worth of income wiped out during a single raid and the elephants often being killed as a consequence.
Its a simple idea: Elephants have been quite destructive as far as villagers and their crops are concerned. To save the situation, a GPS system is used to map the boundaries of go / no-go areas for the elephants. Mobile phone sim-cards are inserted into elephant collars, thereby keeping security guards and villagers informed of the whereabouts of ‘disturbing elephants’.
Nice and simple idea to stop a big problem.
The elephants can be tracked through Google Earth software, helping to map and conserve the corridors they use to move from one protected area to another. The tracking also helps prevent poaching, as rangers know where to deploy resources to guard valuable animals.
But the biggest bonus so far has been the drop in crop raiding. Douglas-Hamilton says elephants, like teenagers, learn from each other, so tracking and controlling one habitual crop raider can make a whole group change its habits.