RFID helps researchers save endangered animals
Using RFID to track pets and livestock is nothing new. The technology has proven itself as a means of tracing lost dogs and cats and as a method for securing the food supply if a disease breaks out within a herd.
Several years ago, scientists began RFID-tagging captive deer and elk to study how they contract fatal diseases. The project tracks their movements as they move from farm to farm. Readers were installed at feeding sites or salt licks to obtain more detailed information on the animals’ movements.
Now, researchers are using RFID on wild animals to study their movements and habitats. The Norwegian Polar Institute tracks about 1,000 polar bears, while deep in the Amazonian rain forest RFID is being used to help save the white-lipped peccary, a wild boar. A non-profit organization has clipped RFID tags into the ears of pigs which it is studying as part of a larger research project that is also tracking jaguars and macaws. When a tagged pig comes to a salt lick, an RFID reader records the identification number on the tag together with a time stamp.
The group is gathering the information in order to gain a better understanding of the animals' habitat requirements. Given the high rates of deforestation in the Amazon basin, the organisation wants to make sure that the animals have enough protected land.
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