Save the Elephants is celebrated for its conservation work in Kenya, Congo, Mali, and South Africa. The four pillars of Save the Elephants are research, protection, grassroots, and education. Each of these pillars is taken seriously in a comprehensive way, keeping in mind that the ultimate approach to conservation is through local knowledge and understanding the elephant’s perspective.
Save the Elephants has used tracking technology since the mid-1990s. The Elephant Tracking Project displays movement patterns and corridors by using ESRI software that verifies GPS data. The tracking device also allows for a Quick Response Unit that notes any disturbances that might signal poaching. An integral part of Save the Elephants’ tracking and research is based off of data collected by GPS/GSM collars that send text messages every couple of hours that contain details on their location, air temperature, and humidity. Currently there are over eighty collars in rotation.
Tracking patterns can be viewed in Google Earth on a moving 3D backdrop of satellite photos provided by Digital Globe. On top of these tracking images of migratory patterns, stories and events are attached for interaction and educational purposes. Through such tracking, researchers are better able to understand why elephants do what they do and the complex social structures in which they live. Researchers can infer on how the relationship between human settlements and water resources affect elephant movements. By tracking these patterns, protected corridors have been established.
An interesting project that Save the Elephants has taken on is geofencing. Traditional fences can be very costly and often ineffective in deterring bull elephants from raiding small-scale agriculture near human settlements. Geofences send an SMS message to an animal management team when a collared elephant passes through it. The team then can chase the elephant out of the fields and train it through negative reinforcements not to pass through the fence again. The program is being refined to teach elephants where they can’t go and to inform farmers of potential night-raids.
Another project is called SEARS (Spatial Economics and Remote Sensing of Elephant Resources). The organization created a vegetation map of Samburu to monitor migration patterns and the distribution of individual species of vegetation. Through layering the data, researchers can note the size and nutritional value of the vegetation. The goal of this project is to better understand why elephants migrate according to specific corridors and between specific regions. Save the Elephants notes how drastically migratory routes change when there are abrupt transformations in weather norms.
Save the Elephants rejoices in the explosion of communications and technology that allow the outside world to experience remote areas. The organization regularly engages with schools and provides media on their webpage.