In Tanzania’s Grumeti Game Reserve, next to Serengeti National Park, elephants roam, rangers sleep more peacefully at night and poachers are on notice, thanks to new technology designed to protect one of the world’s most endangered species.
In response to the surge in ivory poaching in Africa, where the elephant population fell by around 20% between 2006 and 2015, US philanthropist and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen aided by technologists from his company Vulcan Inc. developed EarthRanger.
Their tech platform aggregates remote sensor readings of animal movements, trackers on radios and vehicles, camera trap photos and data from GPS-powered “geo fences” to give rangers in wildlife reserves and parks such as Grumeti a clear view of protected areas. The platform alerts them when threats are picked up via data.
“EarthRanger takes you from being reactive always behind and always after an animal has been killed, or a ranger been injured or killed to being proactive, to being able to anticipate and get ahead of the problem,” said Ted Schmitt, Vulcan Inc’s business development manager for conservation technology.
From EarthRanger’s operations room in Grumeti, rangers view screens where they can observe every elephant fitted with a tracking collar.
Game scout Gotera Gamba said the technology made the conservation work he and other scouts do easier and more efficient — saving elephants and protecting staff on the reserve from poachers.
“Previously our job was difficult because, for example, if you got an alert it would take a long time before to respond as you had to note it on a notebook and rigorous communications with the radio room.”