By NATHAN ADAMS – The Independent
Drones are just one of the ways that Kenya’s Mara Elephant Project are keeping wild elephants safe.
The Maasai Mara region in southwestern Kenya is 1 510km2 of iconic African landscape.
It’s there that you’ll find lions, cheetahs, wildebeests, zebras, and now drones, which are being used to keep wild elephants alive.
One tusk from an adult elephant can easily weigh over 40kg. With elephant ivory selling for up to $3 000 ( about R45 500) per kilogram, these animals are walking goldmines for poachers. The income generated from killing elephants is not just lucrative for individuals, but also local militias and terrorist groups, who use the income to fund deadly and illegal activities.
It’s estimated that over 38 000 elephants are killed each year for their ivor
That’s roughly one elephant every 15 minutes. But it’s not just poachers that elephants must contend with. Human-elephant conflict, habitat loss, and climate change compound an already dire situation. And with just 450 000 to 700 000 African elephants estimated to be left on the planet, many experts agree they could be extinct within a decade.
Based in Nairobi, Kenya, the Mara Elephant Project are a group of passionate conservationists. The ability to get a quick, reliable birds-eye view with a drone – has been a game-changer for the group. Staff can now track elephants, locate poachers, and avoid potential conflicts before they occur. Workers have even been able to herd elephants with drones as the noise these devices make is similar enough to a swarm of bees to spur evasive movement.
Since the organisation began, they’ve arrested over 300 poachers, seized more than 1 000kg of ivory, and helped bring the percentage of illegally killed elephants down from 83% to 44%.
WATCH: How drones are saving Kenya’s elephants:Play VideoVideo: Supplied