Animal tracking is always a difficult problem in the wild. With traditional radio collars researchers are usually only be able to get one fix from two or three animals. Nighttime data is even more difficult to obtain due to ecology graduate students’ refusal to do research at night when lions hunt.
ZebraNet is an ad-hoc wireless sensor network designed for animal tracking aimed to solve these problems. Sensor nodes collars are placed on a few animals and these nodes collect GPS data as well as communicate with each other. A researcher would need to find only one zebra to get the GPS history of all the data with collars, with some delay of course.
During the summer of 2005 we went to Sweetwater Ranch near Nanyuki, Kenya for our second ZebraNet deployment. We deployed 4 collars on zebras spread over 100 square kilometers, one fixed base station, and one handheld station. Over two weeks we were able to collect 5000 GPS data points made up of both daytime and nighttime data.
This picture was taken right outside the visitor center during our deployment. Our visitor’s name is Morani, or “little warrior.” He’s supposed to be the only tame rhino in the world (well, as tame as a rhino gets). He came that afternoon fresh from his nap for his vitamins just as we finished fixing a bug in the base station.