Eight elephants in the Tsavo East National Park have been identified for a unique research exercise that kicks off tomorrow at the park. The elephants will be collared using GPS technology which will assist in the mapping out of migratory routes and corridors in the Park and its buffer zones within the larger ecosystem.

This will enable the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) to effectively design future intervention measures for security operations and human-elephant conflict mitigation.

Scientists from KWS and the International Fund for Animal welfare (IFAW) will work closely to monitor the collared elephants as they move around the national park. IFAW has provided the collars besides offering logistical support for the initiative.

Located in different parts of the 13,747 KM2 Park, the collared elephants’ movement will be closely monitored using GPS technology for close to 20 months, as long as they retain the collars. The last collaring in Tsavo East was done in 1972 using conventional collars that required manual tracking with radio transmitters.

This initiative is inspired by the now established fact that it is more costly to lose elephants and other wildlife and their habitats than it is to attempt to secure them. By understanding the migratory areas that are most critical for elephant survival, KWS and other sector players can be able to secure those areas as well as reduce conflict incidences with humans.

The Tsavo ecosystem is critical for elephant conservation as it is home to the largest population of elephants and covers approximately 4% of Kenya’s landmass. A recent aerial census conducted last month established 12,572 elephants, an increase from 11,696 in 2008.

This exercise will be able to shed very crucial light on key aspects of how elephants move around the park that will go a long way in ensuring these numbers rise even higher – surely now the elephant has a chance of survival!