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Telemetry Solutions' Iridium GPS trackers enabled a National Geographic investigator to track artificial elephant tusks in the illegal ivory trade

Since the spring of 2014, Telemetry Solutions worked closely with a National Geographic team to design and manufacture GPS trackers that the National Geographic team embedded in artificial tusks. The artificial tusks were planted in southeastern Central African Republic, directly into the illegal ivory supply chain and were tracked a total distance of 592 miles exposing the illegal global ivory trade that is financing terrorists.

When National Geographic investigative journalist Bryan Christy contacted Telemetry Solutions and asked if we could design and manufacture GPS trackers for this project he might have found it a far-fetched, incredible thing to ask but the product he needed was easily within our capability.

Article: The Problem Solver

"To follow my artificial tusks from the jungle to their final destination, I need a tracking device capable of transmitting exact locations without dead zones. It needs to be durable and small enough to fit inside the cavities George Dante would make in the blocks of resin and lead that formed the tusks.

Quintin Kermeen, 51, based in Concord, California, has the credentials, and the personality, I’m looking for. Kermeen started in the radio-tracking business when he was 15 and has since built electronic trackers and collars for wildlife from Andean bears to California condors to Tasmanian devils. He designed a GPS tracker that the U.S. Geological Survey embedded in live Burmese pythons to monitor the invasive snakes in the Florida Everglades. For his Judas pig project he built GPS satellite collars to enable pest control authorities in New Zealand to send feral pigs into the bush and locate their invasive piggy friends. We meet over Skype.

After months of tinkering, Kermeen’s final bespoke ivory-tracking device arrives in the mail. It consists of a battery capable of lasting more than a year, a GPS receiver, an Iridium satellite transceiver, and a temperature sensor"

Read More: National Geographic

Follow the route: National Geographic interactive map

Watch the trailer: Warlords of Ivory

High-Tech Tusk Built to Trick Ivory Poachers:

Iridium GPS tusk tracker used to follow illegal trade routes About the GPS trackers: The custom made GPS receiver and satellite transceiver used for this project was 180 mm. x 53 mm x 29 mm (LxWxH excluding power source) and weighed 97 grams (3.5 oz without power source) and was configured with a minimum 1 year battery life. Each device allowed the customer to set the GPS schedule as well as the data transmission schedule based upon their needs. These schedules were set using a web based interface and transmitted by satellite to the artificial tusks. Schedules were routinely changed by the client while the tusks were deployed.

The location data stored in each device were transmitted by satellite (Iridium). GPS position data are posted on a secure website and are also emailed to The National Geographic Team allowing them to track each artificial tusk along the route, carried by the poachers on their nefarious mission. For more information about this product please watch the video below.

Watch the product video:

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