Since the dawn of time, humans have been desperate to communicate with animals. Whether to our dogs — “Stop crapping on the floor, Fido” — a deer — “Hold still you I can shoot your tasty ass to the ground — or a narwhal — “Just what the fuck are you, anyway?” — we have always wanted to communicate with animals and are utterly flummoxed by our inability of doing so.
Well, humans, Kenya has a solution for us: Texting.
Elephants have been ravaging crops throughout Kenya, which apparently has a growing human population. Like any reasonable human, their solution to this point has been to shoot the elephants. At the request of some activist group (you get no pub from me, hippies), they found a new way to allow the elephants approaching crops to alert farmers of their intention.
So they placed a mobile phone SIM card in Kimani’s collar, then set up a virtual “geofence” using a global positioning system that mirrored the conservatory’s boundaries. Whenever Kimani [ed.: he’s an elephant] approaches the virtual fence, his collar texts rangers.
They have intercepted Kimani 15 times since the project began. Once almost a nightly raider, he last went near a farmer’s field four months ago.
Then they shoo him away by getting to the field first and setting up a light show that would make Iron Maiden jealous.
Surely at this point, you’re thinking: Um, excuse me, my life savings are now worth a pack of Skittles. And some shitty activist group is paying for this in Kenya? And you’d be right.
Iain Douglas-Hamilton, founder of Save the Elephants [ed.: shit, they snuck a reference in], said the project is still in its infancy — so far only two geofences have been set up in Kenya — and it has its problems.
Collar batteries wear out every few years. Sometimes communities think placing a collar on an elephant implies ownership and responsibility for the havoc it causes. And it’s expensive work — Ol Pejeta has five full-time staff and a standby vehicle to respond when a message flashes across a ranger’s screen.
Later today, I’m going to make a listing on Monster for five full-time staff to come by my house and set up shop to keep that squirrel from dropping nuts on my car. It’s getting old, squirrel.