Thursday, October 23, 2008

Elephant text-messaging program

This program is a great idea - a two-birds-with-one-stone approach to saving elephants AND protecting people, their property, income and livelihoods. Elephants are very dangerous and destructive, by nature. They are very adept at simply demolishing their environment, and in fact other elements in their ecosystem depend on them doing that. Well, except the human parts of their ecosystems. Elephants who destroy people's crops are, quite rightly, not welcome, and frequently the community solution is to kill the offending elephant(s).

They're also very dangerous animals, when pissed off. One of the animal handlers I spoke with at the Mt. Kenya Animal Orphanage was literally skewered on the tusk of a pissed off bull and tossed through the air, landing behind a log. When he landed, he could see his stomach - on the outside of his body. He said it was a miracle that the elephant didn't come to finish him off. He spent six months in the hospital, and now, understandably, he prefers to work with pygmy hippos instead.

It's one more example of how technology pioneered elsewhere, for other reasons, has great spill-over effects elsewhere in the world. Kenya has better coverage and access for mobile phone than for landline phones (and electricity and plumbing). I have yet to figure out how they charge their phones though.

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