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Collared Elephants Underscore Ecosystem Importance
Five GSM-collared females -- Ida, Lobelia, Vicky, Willow and Maureen of the IB, LB, VA, WA and MB families, respectively -- have been providing excellent data showing the importance of corridors into the ecosystem. See links to the video here and the article in the ATE Newsletter here.
A new Google Earth tool lets us display the data right from the elephants, through Ntauwasa's computer, onto Google Earth. Have a browse and tell us what you think.
The map shows the distribution of the five families from July 2011 to November 2012. In the 15 month period each family demonstrated clearly the importance of tolerance to their presense by Maasai community which lives around the small 392 km² Amboseli National Park (green boundary): in their yearly wandering for a variety of food, Amboseli elephants may cover in nearly 10,000 km² (red outline shows the approximate extent of the ecosystem).
See below for more legend information.
The position of each of the five families was recorded every two hours, from signals from GSM transmitters fitted to Ida, Lobelia, Vicky, Willow and Maureen of the IB (dark blue), LB (purple), VA (green), WA (light blue) and MB (red) families, respectively.
The data show the extent to which the five families range into the ecosystem surrounding Amboseli National Park. Although each familiy tends to venture out into its own prefered direction and region, they all share the common core of swamps in the national park.
The red crosses show the locations of elephants speared or shot in Ambosel ecosystem since 2008. The total number of found carcasses was 75. Only a few of those died from natural or unknown causes. (The 11 elephants that died inside the park either died naturally or had been wounded outside and returned to the park to die.)
It is clear that elephants are at increasing risk outside of the protection of Amboseli National Park, a risk that is growing daily driven by the demand for ivory in the markets of the Far East.
But the good news: Since 2010 the Big Life Foundation in partnership with the Maasailand Preservation Trust has mounted a force of 250 rangers in 21 outposts (green circles) with 14 vehicles to augment and compliment the Kenya Wildlife Service in anti-poaching activities. Over 600 arrests have been made and nearly 2,000 weapons confiscated.
GSM - Global System for Mobile communications, essentially the mobile phone network.