Here’s a cool story from the National Geographic Society that I found in my email this morning. It’s about how National Geographic grantees are using satellite technology to protect lions in Botswana.
Placing satellite, radio, or GPS collars on elusive animals like lions (Panthera leo) is a common way to study them. The collars allow scientists to monitor the creatures’ movements remotely, which generates all kinds of spatial data that helps researchers learn more about the species. These collars can also help reduce human-wildlife conflict.
Human-wildlife conflict is a major threat to animals like lions. When the big cats attack livestock, it can engender hostility towards them amongst local people – who may then be more likely to kill lions and other predators. Thus, protecting domestic animals can also benefit wild carnivores.
What National Geographic grantee Dr. Andrew Stein and his team have done is develop a set of coordinates called a “geofence.” When a collared lion crosses this fence, it sends a warning to local people. That means that participating herders have a chance to take action to protect their livestock, thus preventing human-wildlife conflict.
This “lion alert system” can be quite effective. The National Geographic story says, “Villagers that heeded the warnings saw a 50 percent reduction in their livestock losses.”
Dr. Stein also just co-authored an academic paper on the lion alert system, in which Dr. Florian J. Weise was the lead author. Click here to read it. As always, the original article contains more information as well.
As a bonus, here’s a neat video of Dr. Stein and his team collaring a male lion: