December 26, 2008

Text messages guard crops from elephants

Officials said a scheme to outfit elephants at Kenya's Ol Pejeta conservancy with text-messaging collars has been successful in protecting crops.

Save The Elephants, a British-registered charity based in Kenya, is outfitting elephants at the conservancy with collars that send hourly updates on their positions to a central server in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, and alert rangers with text messages when the mammals are straying too close to farmlands, The Telegraph reported Friday.

At first I could not believe that the elephant was sending me a text message, said Richard Lesowapir, a senior ranger at the conservancy. But now we see it is definitely the most effective way for us to find them quickly and stop them destroying the farmers' livelihoods.

He said rangers receiving alerts of elephants headed for crops dissuade the animals from wandering further from their home by scaring them away with vehicles outfitted with spotlights.

Rangers said the collars are also useful in tracking the elephants to protect them from poachers.