More Elephants Put Under Satellite Surveillance
Four elephants in Greater Kruger got a bit of a surprise on October 19 when wildlife vet Cobus Raath and a team of international volunteers swooped down on them to fit them with GPS tracking collars.
By Melissa Wray
In Greater Kruger National Park
With the addition of two bulls and a cow to her stable of collared elephants, and the removal of Benjy's collar, Michelle now has 10 elephants under digital surveillance, with their GPS locations being downloaded onto her computer regularly.This allows her to draw up precise maps of their locations. She can determine if the animals move in specific directions at different times of the year. By watching the animals on the ground she can see if the movement is caused by bulls being in musth, other social interactions, or the need for food or water.The other elephant collared was the first animal to take part in the ambitious Tembo (The Elephant Movements and Bio-Economic Optimality Programme) project, as part of Yolanda Pretorius' PhD study.
Tembo is an international collaborative effort that will try and understand how the nutrient content of plants affects the way herbivores, especially elephants, choose their next meal.This will lead into management plans for reserves with elephants. After the elephant collaring, the veterinary team and the volunteers went on to microchip several rhinos and lions in the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve for security purposes. Several high profile wildlife scientists were involved in the exercise, known as the "One World Quest".