If you were an elephant getting ready to do some crop-raiding on farms in Kenya, sending a text message out to rangers would probably be the last thing on your mind. And yet, this is exactly what happens every time a bull elephant named Kimani in Kenya wants do “play” on some neighboring farms: he sends out a text message to rangers so that he can be stopped.
Of course, Kimani’s not doing it voluntarily. He’s able to send out text messages to rangers like Richard Lesowapir via a SIM card that’s kept inserted and activated in his collar. And with the help of a so-called “geofence” and Google Earth, Kimani is kept from doing harm to Kenya’s farms, which are a significant source of income for some.
The “geofence” mentioned above is supposed to be a virtual fence, and is said to be created by using GPS technology. Every time Kimani approaches the virtual fence, the SIM card he packs in his collar sends out a message to rangers to alert them of what’s about to happen.
It’s actually a pretty ingenious setup, though it’s not without problems. This project has been quite successful thus far, and there are already two “geofences” set up in Kenya. But limited collar battery life, the perceived implications of placing a collar on an elephant, and the need for full-time monitoring all still remain to be issues. Those don’t make this kind of project any un-cooler, though. And the most important thing is that nobody gets hurt.
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