16 February 2018

Kenya: 20 Elephants in Tsavo Get Tracking Collars for Protection

Twenty elephants in the Tsavo ecosystem have been fitted with advanced satellite radio tracking collars to track their movements.

The four-day exercise was conducted by the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) with support from Save the Elephants (STE) and the Tsavo Trust (TT).


KWS Head Species Conservation and Management Dr Shadrack Ngene said 10 bulls and 10 females were fitted with advanced Savannah Tracking satellite radio tracking collars.

"The operation covered over 1,290 kilometres and involved technical personnel from KWS, STE and TT on ground and on air," Dr Ngene said.

The exercise helps gather valuable insights on elephant ranging patterns, habitat connectivity and how they adapt to infrastructure development thus enhance their conservation and management of elephants within the landscape.

The Tsavo ecosystem is home to over 12,000 elephants, which is the largest elephant population in Kenya.

"One of the collared elephants crossed the SGR twice two days after he was collared thus confirming the collared elephants will provide valuable data to inform land use planning and infrastructural development," the official said.


According to STE, putting tracking collars on elephants is a complex, risky and expensive operation but the data obtained is incredibly invaluable, providing an important and useful monitoring tool.

"This data will help us, Kenya Wildlife Service and Tsavo Trust to identify important elephant habitats and sites of increasing human-elephant conflict, which can lead us to develop new tools to help protect both elephants and farmers," the organisation said.

The collaring also helps in taming poaching in the country's parks which peaked between 2009 and 2013, as demand and prices for ivory shot up. In the four- year period, over 100,000 elephants were killed.

As part of conservation efforts, elephants are now fitted with GPS and satellite collars. One collar can help track about 30 elephants in a herd.

The mammals are mostly poached for their tusks.

In 1989, former President Daniel Moi set ablaze 12 tonnes of elephant tusks, the first statement in the country in the fight against illegal ivory trade.

In March 2015, President Uhuru Kenyatta burnt 15 tonnes of tusks estimated to be worth Sh3 billion ($30 million).


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