Home conservation How technology is helping save SA’s elephants

How technology is helping save SA’s elephants


Technology helps to track and research elephants and their movements in the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park

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ELEPHANT conservationists in South Africa are teaming up with a giant technology company to track and research elephants and their movements in the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park in the hope of stemming the decline of the majestic beasts.

With a 97% decline in the African elephant over the past 100 years, Dell Technologies are collaborating with South African non-profit Elephants Alive, to deploy Dell Latitude Rugged and Dell Precision mobile workstations which will facilitate field research in the conservation of the declining African elephant.

The Dell workstations will provide the processing power to obtain data-driven insights and generate detailed maps, which are generated by software that runs on the precision machine.

The maps show elephant movements which help researchers keep track of trailblazing elephants and provide much-needed data to ensure their survival.

Dell Latitude Rugged workstations speed up data collection in the field.

In the field, Elephants Alive researchers rely on the Dell Latitude Rugged workstations to record data and take vast amounts of high-quality photos – up to 800 per day – for elephant identification.

Researchers identify elephants by their unique ear shape, similar to a fingerprint.

Dell Latitude Rugged devices offer extreme durability and reliability in rough outdoor environments.

From bumpy off-road travel to oppressive heat, corrosive wind driven dust and sand to African thunderstorms, no environment is too harsh.

Dr Michelle Henley, Co-founder, CEO and Principal Researcher at Elephants Alive said, “Using innovative technology in conservation research allows us to be more efficient in our data collection and analysis. By evolving from hand-drawn images to high-definition photographs, digitising the identification of elephants allows us to scale our efforts in the field to protect more animals.”

Researchers log and update records for every individual elephant– noting their location, behaviour and other elephants they are associating with.

The Dell Latitude Rugged range allows the team to remain productive in remote areas, offering outdoor-readable displays, glove-capable touch, legacy IO capability and advanced wireless connectivity to get the job done.

Elephants Alive also maintains an elephant tracking project, which attains data from nearly 200 advanced GPS satellite collars that have been deployed on elephants for the past 20 years.

Hourly data downloads have resulted in over 2 million data points, accurately combining location data with the ID photos taken in the field.

To derive value from all this gathered data, Elephants Alive researchers use Dell Precision mobile workstations to provide reliable, high quality mobile compute power and perform heavy-duty data processing.

The Dell Precision mobile workstations boast the latest thermal innovations, professional graphics and powerful CPU technologies, in addition to Dell Optimizer for Precision.

The built-in AI software automatically improves application performance, battery run time and audio settings in the background, providing a seamless experience with fewer disruptions.

By learning how each researcher works, Dell Optimizer allows them to focus on the tasks that matter most: conserving the African elephant.

Researchers generate detailed maps using data collected in the field to better understand migratory patterns, herd dynamics and general whereabouts of elephants.

“The maps that we generate are an invaluable asset to our researchers, they allow us to predict when elephants will enter high risk areas fraught by illegal killings or human=elephant-conflict in general,” said Dr. Henley.

Doug Woolley, Managing Director, Dell Technologies South Africa said, “Dell Technologies is continually developing innovative technology that delivers a simple, seamless experience to users – no matter where they work, in the field or at the office. Our collaboration with Elephants Alive shows how technology can accelerate conservation initiatives like identifying and tracking African elephants. This is a testament to the versatile range of our PC portfolio -from Latitude Rugged enabling researchers to work comfortably in any environment to Dell Precision mobile workstations offering power and intelligence, through Dell Optimizer software, making data processing easy and efficient.”

Dell Technologies is committed to protecting and enriching the planet together with customers, suppliers and communities.

With the onset of the 4th Industrial Revolution, smart technology can drive the effective use of data in conservation. By pairing dedicated researchers with the right technology, we can make great strides to preserve and protect the African elephant in its natural habitat.

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