By Kalwinder Kaur
In order to evaluate the elephant conservation and management practices of the Malaysian Government, experts are utilizing modern GPS and satellite communication.
Tracking endangered elephants with satellite technology
The technology may help in development of a long term strategy for protecting the endangered Malaysian elephants.
Presently there are less than 1500 elephants on the Malay Peninsula. Earlier it used to be in thousands. The loss of forest cover may be a significant reason. Experts from the Malaysian Department of Wildlife and National Parks and The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus (UNMC) have joined hands to track the remaining elephants.
The Malaysian Ministry of Natural Resources has signed memorandums of understanding for collaborative research with 10 public Malaysian universities and the UNMC. The Malaysian Department of Wildlife and National Parks is a signing a MoU with UNMC for the Management & Ecology of Malaysian Elephants (MEME) research project. Dr Ahimsa Campos-Arceiz, a conservation expert and ecologist is leading the MEME project. Sime Darby has setup a foundation and provided £700,000 (RM3.36m) for the project. The US National Zoo, US Fish & Wildlife Service, Copenhagen Zoo and the Singapore Zoo have contributed to the project.
The team plans to fit 50 elephants with GPS-satellite tracking devices to study their response to translocation, changes in habitat, and the effect of present conservation measures, which include wildlife corridors and highway viaducts. The GPS collars can be tracked using VHF radio signals and by satellite phone in areas that can be accessed by GPS.