On Saturday, 8 August, we conducted a world-first for conservation: a virtual elephant collaring in Hoedspruit, South Africa. The world may be in lockdown but the work of wildlife conservationists still needs to go ahead. So, for the first time, we took the live action to locked-down wildlife lovers all over the world, who were able to watch an adrenalin-fuelled elephant collaring operation as it unfolded, from the safety and comfort of their homes. Some 250 viewers from around the world logged in to watch this incredible experience.
As an NPO, Blue Sky Society Trust has been working with Elephants Alive since 2016. With COVID-19 hammering travel and tourism, Blue Sky founder, Carla Geyser, came up with the incredible concept to connect elephant lovers across the planet to the excitement of the on-the-ground operation. Mobilising modern technology, they were able to live stream the collaring operation from the middle of the bushveld, raising critically needed funds and awareness in the process.
This collaring operation raised R260 000, enough for two new elephant collars (General & Proud), and we also managed to fix Gouwe’s collar which has been torn. The live broadcast technology was provided by Painted Dog TV, whose team had to build a makeshift satellite dish to bounce the signal off the nearest tower which was between 45 and 57km away.