Sadly, many species of animals in the world are endangered because of human activity, but some very clever people are starting to use human creations to protect and help these animals. Wild animals are not the only ones being helped by technology. Pets are also benefiting. Some people are creating completely new technologies, and others are just using old technologies in completely new ways. Here are some examples of the great technologies helping animals:
• GPS (Global Positioning System) – By sending signals between 27 satellites, GPS can determine where things are and even how fast they are moving. This technology has been used in things such as cars to give directions. Now in the forests of the Nigeria-Cameron border, it is being used to track gorillas and help protect them from hunters and other dangerous human activity. In Nepal, the same technology helps track tigers.
• Hubble Telescope – This is a telescope that was launched into space and helped us to learn incredible things about the universe. One of the ways it did this was by using software that could recognize the patterns in the sky so that it could locate specific galaxies and stars. Now scientists are using that software to identify the markings on whale sharks. In this way, they can tag the animals without ever touching them.
• Texting – Elephants are beautiful and intelligent creatures, but they can also be very dangerous. When elephants wander into villages in Kenya, they can cause a lot of damage and often hurt themselves. To protect the people and the elephants, the animals are fitted with collars that have a SIMS card just like the one in cell phones. When the animal gets close to a village, GPS picks it up and warns the people through texts.
• Desalination Plants – These plants in Abu Dhabi use solar power to remove salt from water to make it drinkable. Recently the Arabian oryx, which was extinct in the wild since the 1960s, has been reintroduced into the wild. One of the biggest challenges for them is finding water, so these plants provide filtered waterholes for the animals.
• Fish Hooks – These hooks are special. Many sharks are accidentally killed when they are caught by accident on hooks meant for other animals. To help prevent this, there are new hooks called SMART hooks that are coated with a special metal that reacts with seawater and produces electricity. Sharks are sensitive to this and won’t bite.
• Microchips – There are few things as sad as a missing pet, but this new technology is helping to reunite pets with their families. Microchips are about the size of a grain of rice and hold and transmit information. These chips are implanted under the skin of pets, and if they are lost and picked up by a shelter, they will be scanned. The information in the chip will then help the shelter return the pet to its family.
• Prosthetics – This helps wild animals and pets. Just like people, animals can have accidents and lose limbs. Instead of living their lives without a limb, replacements can be made and the animal can go on to live a normal life. Dolphins, dogs, cats, birds, turtles and even elephants have been helped with prosthetics.
For more information, visit the following websites: http://wwf.panda.org/?206154/Nepal-tests-new-unmanned-aerial-vehicle-technology-to-stop-wildlife-crime, www.treehugger.com/gadgets/ways-technology-saving-endangered-species.html, http://webecoist.momtastic.com/2011/09/19/11-ways-technology-is-helping-to-save-endangered-species/, www.humanesociety.org/animals/resources/tips/microchips.html, www.mnn.com/earth-matters/animals/photos/9-inspiring-animals-that-use-prosthetics/bionic-animals