Save the Elephants

  • Organisation Save the Elephants
  • Main Website URL
  • Contact Dr Douglas-Hamilton
  • Tools Used Google Earth, Google Fusion Tables, Android app
Save the Elephants uses Google Earth to track, study and protect elephants from poaching with geo-fences and satellite collars on elephants.

The ivory trade may have been banned for over two decades, but poaching remains the greatest potential threat to elephants.

How they did it

Save the Elephants assists wildlife departments in their fight against ivory traders and poachers by collaring key elephants with satellite and GSM collars to track and monitor their movements.

Save the Elephants uses Google Earth to visualise elephant tracking data from across Africa. The application's satellite imagery allows researchers to zoom in to remote regions of Kenya and follow the elephants on a moving high definition 3D backdrop in real time. Since 1995, Save the Elephants has been a leader in developing systems to monitor and interpret elephant movements. The technology is constantly being updated, so today, bulky radio-tracking collars are being replaced by GPS collars that transmit data to secure servers.

For managers in the field, realtime elephant position updates and alerts are now securely delivered to Save The Elephants' mobile app on iOS and Android. To go much deeper, users can drill down into extensive track KML files with Google Earth on a laptop.


Save the Elephants also recognises the threats posed by human-elephant interaction. The group's migration tracking studies have led to the construction of a corridor and a highway underpass to give the elephants safe migration areas between Mt Kenya and the Lewa/Borana region to the north.

The first day that the corridor opened, Tony, one of the collared elephants, was spotted crossing underneath. At Save the Elephants, our goal is to secure a future for elephants and the habitats in which they live, from Tony to the "Great Tuskers" such as Murembo, shown below. Very few tuskers like Murembo remain in the wild due to the threats of poaching for ivory.

Spreading The Word

As pressure mounts from increased demand for ivory, Save The Elephants has stepped up its efforts with a new web outreach to traditional and social media.

Launched at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Jeju, September 2012, the new Elephants in Peril site publishes current news and emerging research about potential threats to the future of elephants.

By combining different public data sets on maps and thematic web pages, Elephants In Peril strives to paint a complete picture of a challenging situation. The latest population, range, and monitoring data from IUCN and CITES make up key parts of the story, alongside original research and outreach by the Save The Elephants team and associates.

Using Fusion Tables and Google Maps Engine, Elephants In Peril provides the ability to transmit visualisations and deep dive data by just sharing a URL. With this tool, Save The Elephants has been able to instantly supply interested journalists with all the supporting data they need to frame conclusions and develop their own expositional materials, getting the news -- good or bad -- quickly to the public.

Johan Marais took this image of Tsavo’s Great Tusker, Murembo (The Beautiful One). His tusks weigh over 140 lbs each, which therefore classifies him as a 'Great Tusker'. Save the Elephants uses Murembo’s image to raise awareness of the vulnerability of the species, to campaign against the demand for ivory and to counter poaching.