Scoping elephants & rhinos on the web
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, June 2005:
MERU–The latest Kenyan venture in wildlife tracking could
either help to stop elephant and rhino poaching or accelerate it,
depending on the monitoring and interdiction capabilities of the
Kenya Wildlife Service.
“Elephants in some national parks are being fitted with SIM
card collars that send a text message telling wardens exactly where
the elephants are every hour. That information will soon be
available over the Internet, and accessible to people who choose to
sponsor an animal or make a donation to charity,” London
Independent correspondent Meera Selva reported on June 5, 2005.
Confirmed Meru National Park senior warden Mark Jenkins, who
is introducing the tracking technology, “People can go online and
see where ‘their’ elephant is at any time of day or night. It should
be a very useful tool for fundraising.”
“A similar technology is also being used to track rhinos,”
But poachers can access the same web sites–and battery-operated
laptops make access from remote locations relatively easy.
Under Jenkins, Meru has been safe from poachers. But Meru
was the hardest hit of the major Kenyan wildlife viewing venues
during the poaching wars of the 1980s.
Meru at peak was visited by 47,000 tourists per year, but
after conservationist George Adamson was killed there in 1989,
following several murders and disappearances of visitors, the
visitor traffic fell to only 1,500 by 1997, before Jenkins was
appointed to restore wildlife to the depleted park.