DAR-ES-SALAAM, -- The Tanzanian government, with support from the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), has launched the country's largest ever elephant collaring effort to protect the dwindling population of the jumbos.

With almost 90 per cent of the elephants lost over the last 40 years in the country's Selous Game Reserve, a World Heritage site, enhancing the ability of park rangers to guard the remaining animals is critical to rebuilding the population.

Under the 12-month project, 60 elephants will be collared in and around the Selous. This will enable reserve management and government rangers to track elephant movements, identify and act against threats in real-time.

The use of satellite tracking collars is a proven effective measure to monitor wildlife movements. The data collected through the collars will help teams predict where the elephants and their herds are moving to anticipate the dangers they may face, such as the risk of encountering poachers.

The data can also alert teams if the herd is heading toward community settlements to help move them away from farmlands and reduce the risk of human-elephant conflict.

In a landscape as vast as Selous where poaching continues, better information on the whereabouts of elephants is critical to anticipate the risks they may encounter, including fatal attacks by poachers, said Asukile Kajuni, the Deputy Programmes Coordinator for the Elephant and Ruvuma landscape programmes of WWF-Tanzania.

The collars mark an important first step in the zero poaching approach we are taking by enabling wildlife protection teams to be on the front foot against poaching attacks, he added.