Iridium Communications announced it has created a first-of-its-kind program in support of the Smithsonian Institution’s Movement of Life Initiative, which advances conservation through the science of animal tracking. Through this program, Iridium® satellite connections are enabling Smithsonian scientists to overcome the challenge of tracking wildlife in remote areas, enabling better understanding of threats to the survival of terrestrial, avian, and marine life.
“Many of the landscapes where we work are large and inaccessible on foot or by vehicle, areas where Iridium offers a reliable solution to collect data on wildlife and their movements. The transmission of data in real-time is also vastly important, allowing field teams to respond to animals that are potentially in threat,” said Jared Stabach, research ecologist at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute and the terrestrial program lead for the Smithsonian’s Movement of Life Initiative. “By collaborating with Iridium, we’re better positioned to protect species and their habitats, providing information that informs conservation efforts on the ground.”
Among the first species included in this program are Asian elephants, Masai giraffes, jaguars, wildebeests, bobcats, and addax (a rare antelope native to the Sahara Desert). Animal location data is sent over the Iridium network at predetermined intervals, enabling conservationists to monitor positions and transmit data to research bases or park ranger outposts as required. To aid the work of field conservationists, Iridium Extreme® Push-to-Talk (PTT) devices are also being used to provide reliable group communications for scientists and their teams while deployed in the field.
“The Movement of Life’s global animal conservation efforts are incredibly important for the protection of threatened and endangered species, and Iridium is uniquely qualified to help with on-the-ground efforts in an impactful way,” said Iridium CEO Matt Desch. “This partnership was a natural fit, and we’re happy to join the Smithsonian in this important work and to play a part in better understanding the migrations of these animals and ecological impacts on their well-being.”
This program is made possible through collaboration with Iridium partners that are supporting implementation, including collar manufacturing and service provision. These partners include Applied Satellite Technology Ltd (AST) and Savannah Tracking Ltd, and Ground Control and VECTRONIC Aerospace.