An investigation into the viability of a new generation wildlife tracking system
Botha, Isak Francois
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Wildlife management and conservation is becoming more important by the day. Recent advances in the world communications opened new possibilities for wildlife tracking which have never researched detail before. Using the positioning capabilities GPS and the communication capabilities of GSM networks as basis for wildlife tracking enables a level of efficiency, flexibility cost-effectiveness that cannot matched by the earlier approaches. The aim of study was to determine if a new generation wildlife tracking system based on combination of GPS/GSM technology will offer numerous advantage above existing technologies. From discussion with different participants in the market it becomes evident that the market leader was an existing commercial player Africa Wildlife Tracking (AWT), specializing in the conventional tracking methods described earlier. Interviews were conducted with AWT as well as following categories of users: Private game farm owners, wildlife researchers, national parks and endangered wildlife According to interviews a user requirement statement was compiled by combining the requirements of wildlife researchers with the few additional requirements for wildlife management. In Chapter three possible position, data transfer and distribution technologies were evaluated the user requirement statement in Chapter two (2.3). In Chapter four a system has been defined to meet the market needs as described n Chapter two using the technologies as described in Chapter three. Chapter five describes how the prototype system on the described in previous chapter was deployed in field to enable the practical assessment how this system would perform in typical environments. Based on practical feedback, the key research question could be an answer: Will a new generation wildlife track system based on a combination of GPS/GSM technology be a viable option in practical management of wildlife conservation establishments? In Chapter six the tracking system was evaluated by analyzing the data received from devices already deployed. Furthermore the success of the system was stated by evaluating the main features and requirements of the system using feedback from market as published in the media. From this study it is clear that the new generation wildlife tracking system based on a combination of GPS/GSM technology will be a viable option for the tracking and management of wildlife. The development of this tracking concept and the implementation of the technology stretched over a period of more than three years, with the first tracking collar employed during 2002. By the time this thesis was concluded, over 300 units were successfully deployed on various animals including baboons, crocodiles, wild dogs, hyenas, leopards, cheetahs, lions, buffallo, sables, rhinos and elephants. These applications of the technology spans across South Africa and other countries such as Botswana, Costa Rica, Zambia and Kenya.
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