News

Where are the elephants? Iridium helps the Smithsonian track them

Iridium elephants.jpg

Satellite company Iridium has created what it calls a first-of-its-kind programme in support of a Smithsonian Institution conservation project.

The Movement of Life Initiative advances conservation through the science of animal tracking, and it is using Iridiumsatellite connections to help understand the threats to the survival of terrestrial, avian and marine life.

Jared Stabach, research ecologist at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute, said: “Many of the landscapes where we work are large and inaccessible on foot or by vehicle, areas where Iridium offers a reliable solution to collect data on wildlife and their movements.”

Real-time data transmission allows teams in the field to respond to animals that are potentially in threat, he added.

Stabach, who is the terrestrial programme lead for the Movement of Life Initiative, said: “By collaborating with Iridium, we’re better positioned to protect species and their habitats, providing information that informs conservation efforts on the ground.”

Among the first species included in this programme are Asian elephants, Masai giraffes, jaguars, wildebeests, bobcats, and addax – a rare antelope native to the Sahara.

Animal location data enables conservationists to monitor positions and transmit data to research bases or park ranger outposts as required.

The conservationists themselves are using Iridium push-to-talk (PTT) devices to communicate reliably.

Iridium CEO Matt Desch said: “The Movement of Life’s global animal conservation efforts are incredibly important for the protection of threatened and endangered species, and Iridium is uniquely qualified to help with on-the-ground efforts in an impactful way.”

He added: “This partnership was a natural fit, and we’re happy to join the Smithsonian in this important work and to play a part in better understanding the migrations of these animals and ecological impacts on their well-being.”

Iridium partners including Applied Satellite Technology Ltd, Savannah Tracking, Ground Control and Vectronic Aerospace are supporting the project.