Wed, Sep 23, 2015 - Page 12 News List

Tech for tuskers

Google creates 3D maps to help Kenya’s Samburu reserve preserve its elephants from poachers

By Peter Martell  /  AFP, Kenya

“There’s Rodin, and Matisse — but Gauguin sadly died,” adds the 73-year-old British zoologist, naming each of the 23 animals grazing among the bushes lining the Ewaso Ng’iro river, a lifeline snaking through the 165km2 reserve.

Douglas-Hamilton, who has spent his life among the giant animals and talks of an “elephant genocide,” says it is the individual names given to the elephants he knows them by.

This month Google launched their Street View service in Samburu, part of a bid to raise awareness of the park and elephants, as well as boosting education and promote tourism.

But old tracking systems remain: outside the research center in Samburu, long sad lines of dozens of elephant jaws are laid out, all killed by poachers or drought, the teeth of each providing valuable data as to their age at death.

“Here was one bullet, here another,” said Daballen, lifting a bleached shoulder bone, belonging to an elephant called Ebony.

Those gunshots did not in fact kill Ebony, finally felled in May 2011 by a bullet to the head.

“We’re doing all we can, but the poachers are not going away,” he added, waving at the lines of bones.

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