Save the elephants

B.C. man’s Google Elephant system
helps save elephants in Africa

Jake Wall, a PhD geography student at the University of British Columbia, helps put a satellite GPS tracking collar on an elephant in northern Kenya. Photo courtesy of Jake Wall

Jake Wall, a PhD geography student at the University of British Columbia, helps put a satellite GPS tracking collar on an elephant in northern Kenya.
(Photo courtesy of Jake Wall)

Level 3

Adapted from The Vancouver Sun

Jake Wall, a PhD student at UBC
in Vancouver, Canada, has invented
a device to help save elephants.
Wall tracks elephants by using
smartphones and Google Earth.
For 10 years, Wall has worked with
Save the Elephants in Kenya, East Africa.
He hopes his new invention
will help stop poaching.

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Watch the YouTube video explaining how the new tracking system
in Kenya works:


The ivory trade
Each year, many elephants
are killed for their tusks.
These tusks are made of ivory.
People carve this ivory
and sell the carvings to tourists.
The ivory trade is against the law,
but poachers make a lot of money.
Last year poachers killed
30,000 elephants worldwide.

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Elephant ivory seized from poachers.
(Photo by Jonathan Hutson/ENOUGH Project/CC, Flickr)

Tracking elephant behaviour
To track the elephants,
Wall first attached satellite-tracking
GPS collars to about 100 of the animals.
Wall and his team can now tell
whether an elephant has stopped moving.
This might mean that
the animal has been killed.
Wall’s system can also show
if an elephant is slowing down.
This might mean that it is injured or sick.
With this new tracking system,
someone can respond medically
to help the animal.
Rangers or conservationists can then
be sent quickly to check.

 An elephant in Samburu visiting the remains of a poached elephant. <br> (Photo: Save the Elephants, Courtesy of Jake Wall.)

An elephant in Samburu visiting the remains of a poached elephant.
(Photo: Save the Elephants, Courtesy of Jake Wall.)

Elephants are not always welcome
The huge animals
might enter farmers’ fields.
If the animals damage, destroy or
eat the crops, the farmers will kill them.
Rangers can quickly come to help
the farmers and move the animals
to another area.

Educating about conservation
It is hoped that this new technology
will teach people to understand
elephant behaviour.
It is also hoped that school children
will become interested in science and
the conservation of elephants and
other wildlife.
An elephant in Samburu visiting the remains
of a poached elephant.

Vocabulary
tracks: follows the course or trail of (someone or something),
in order to find them or note their location in different places.
rangers: keepers of a park, forest, or area of countryside.
tusk: a long, pointed tooth, especially one which sticks out of the closed mouth,
as in the elephant, walrus, or wild boar.
poaching: killing or taking wild animals or fish illegally

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