Demand for ivory as well as human-elephant conflict has devastated most of Africa’s elephant populations and northern Kenya’s are no exception. Today however, efforts by indigenous communities in the area to build peace and end the ivory crisis appear to be paying off. Supported by organizations like the Save the Elephants
and Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT)
in partnership with the Kenyan government, these community conservancies are improving security for wildlife and people but also building sustainable economies linked to conservation. Since 2012, the number of elephants killed for their ivory have dropped significantly. And Koya’s willingness to journey out of the Samburu plains is just another signal of the change that’s happening in the region.
While nothing can substitute an engaged community focused on protecting its people, wildlife and landscape, the infusion of technology is giving Pope and others a powerful tool to monitor and safeguard wildlife. Right now, Save the Elephants is tracking Koya and about 100 elephants across Kenya. Using Vulcan’s EarthRanger, a data visualization and analysis software for protected area management, Save the Elephants and NRT are able to combine real-time data from Koya’s GPS collar, ranger patrols, remote imaging, and various sensors to guide the deployment of rangers to protect elephants from poachers. EarthRanger is also helping warn communities of crop-raiding elephants. Just as valuable though are the insights and historical trends EarthRanger is helping to unlock for research.