Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

GPS transmitters can protect animals from poaching

10.08.2015

The case of Cecil shows: with the help of satellite transmitter systems, researchers can determine the cause of death of animals almost in real time

The killing of the lion Cecil in a national park in Zimbabwe by a big-game hunter has sparked worldwide outrage. Researchers at the University of Oxford had outfitted Cecil with a GPS collar to monitor his behaviour. It was only thanks to this special tag that the cause of the animal's death was cleared up. At the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Radolfzell, scientists also use transmitters to observe the behavior of different species of animals.


Cecil the Lion, in Hwange Nationalpark, Zimbabwe.

© WildCRU/Andrew Loveridge


This cuckoo, equipped with a five-gram mini data logger on its back, is transmitting its data every other day to a satellite for ten hours.

© Natural History Museum of Denmark/M. Willemoes

The data collected through telemetry is so accurate that it can help to quickly locate killed animals and clear up their cause of death. From 2016, the satellite-based system Icarus will also capture the global movement patterns of animals. Icarus will thus significantly improve the protection of endangered species.

The American big-game hunter's first attempt to kill the lion with a crossbow failed. Only after chasing the animal, and with the support of local trackers, he was finally able to kill the animal. According to the hobby hunter, he did not suspect that this was not just an "ordinary" animal. The movements of the big cat were monitored as part of a research project at the University of Oxford in the UK aimed at protecting wildlife populations. This is why Cecil wore a GPS collar that tracked and reported his locations, and the date of which ultimately led wildlife rangers to the hunter.

Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology also study the behavior of animals with transmitters, which teach them a lot about the migratory movements and habitats of endangered species. But they also record the death of an animal. Dina Dechmann, for example, monitors the routes of pigeons. With the help of transmitters, she can determine where and when these birds fall victim to birds of prey.

"In the case of danger, risk-averse individuals first leave the swarm in order to escape. This makes them an easy target. In one case, we could tell through transmitters which we later found close to a falcon's nest that the birds were killed by a bird of prey and not shot by a hunter," reports Dechmann.

The same applies to studies of the bald ibis. Conservationists want to reintroduce this migratory bird, who was once native to Europe, to Austrian and Italian forests. Similar as in Cecil's case, scientists were able, through data loggers, to identify a hunter who had illegally shot such a bird.

In this way, scientists can also establish where and which migratory birds, such as songbirds or storks, are killed on their yearly travels. This is essential information for species protection. "The signals from the transmitters are so precise that we could even register where a shot mallard fell to Earth. So far, however, this is only a by-product of our research, "says Dechmann.

The position data is primarily used to investigate the behavior of the animals and their movement patterns. So far, researchers have been mainly interested in the causes of death in order to understand population fluctuations. "However, the data loggers may also be specifically used to reduce the hunting of endangered animals," said Dechmann.

Soon, scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology will have even more opportunities to track animals - through a satellite system. From 2016 onwards, under the guidance of Martin Wikelski, director at the Max Planck Institute in Radolfzell, the international consortium Icarus (International Cooperation for Animal Research Using Space) will globally monitor the movements of many animals at the same time. Solar powered GPS mini transmitters will be sending their data to the International Space Station and from there to research groups worldwide.

Icarus will not only deter potential poachers with its transmitters but, but also contribute to the protection of wildlife animals in other ways, with a lot of data being freely accessible. And the AnimalTracker app will enable everyone to participate in the project, upload their own wildlife observations and make them available to researchers.

"Thanks to Icarus, we can follow the lives of animals almost from the sofa. It strengthens our connection with them and thus hopefully also our appreciation of our fellow creatures," says Wikelski. While all of this is too late for Cecil, there is still hope for many other endangered animals. "With the data gained through Icarus, people can forge a personal relationship with wild animals similar to Cecil. I am sure that this global attention will protect many animals from illegal hunting, "said Wikelski.

Contact

Dr. Dina Dechmann
Max Planck Institute for Ornithology (Radolfzell), Radolfzell
Phone: +49 7732 150-173

Email: ddechmann@orn.mpg.de

Dr. Dina Dechmann | Max Planck Institute for Ornithology (Radolfzell), Radolfzell
Further information:
http://www.mpg.de/9356217/gps-animal-tracking-species-protection?filter_order=L&research_topic=

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Upcycling 'fast fashion' to reduce waste and pollution
03.04.2017 | American Chemical Society

nachricht Litter is present throughout the world’s oceans: 1,220 species affected
27.03.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

DGIST develops 20 times faster biosensor

24.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Nanoimprinted hyperlens array: Paving the way for practical super-resolution imaging

24.04.2017 | Materials Sciences

Atomic-level motion may drive bacteria's ability to evade immune system defenses

24.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>