GPS-trackers to save tigers


A GPS-trackers project for tigers? Nepal has long been a world leader in tiger research and conservation. The Smithsonian-Nepal Tiger Ecology Project is an international collaboration that started almost 50 years ago. It was one of the first to use radio telemetry collars to track tigers for conservation research.

Ecologists would take radio receivers into the field to painstakingly triangulate tigers’ locations once or twice a day in natural landscapes. The new research project builds on this work by using modern tracking technology. This helps to unlock new insights about tigers in landscapes that human development is altering.

The collars connect to GPS satellites many times daily. By this they provide detailed information on tiger locations. This data can show how tigers move along roads before and after crossing. Or how much energy they expend near and far away from roads. Where and how they hunt near roads. How they respond to vehicle traffic at different times of the day. And what their behavior patterns are near roads as compared to far away from roads.

By analyzing hormones in feces deposited by the GPS-trackers in the collared tigers, we can even understand the stress they experience near roads.