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Aversive Geofencing Collars

Humans and wildlife will be able to live more harmoniously in many parts of the world thanks to ground breaking research into controlling animal movements by University of Southern Queensland academics.

Since 2016 Dr Ben Allen, Senior Research Fellow, has been trialling aversive geofencing collars on various species of domesticated and wild animals to develop a solution that can be successfully used on wildlife whose habitat spans vast distances. 

“There are many products on the market but almost all of them rely on erecting telecommunication towers, which is just not feasible for wildlife – our devices avoid this issue by going straight to the satellites,” Dr Allen said.

Their latest trial is a joint project with Sri Lanka’s National Institute of Fundamental Studies and is focused on Asian Elephants, one of India and Asia's biggest wildlife management issues.

“Elephants are getting squashed into smaller and smaller habitats as people develop land, and they raid crops and clash with people resulting in the deaths of hundreds and hundreds of people and elephants,” Dr Allen explains.

Until now, people have tried to control wild elephants using a wide range of techniques, including electric fences, but our research is developing a prototype collar that administers small electric shocks on elephants to control their movements.  

The collars can be connected to satellites and programmed with GPS coordinates or virtual fences, meaning there is no need to erect real fences or other infrastructure, and the collars work in remote locations.

The animal welfare and wellbeing of collared elephants is also being evaluated.

Elephants have very tough skin but domesticated elephants can be controlled by a rider's big toe, so preliminary research is being done to work out the level of electrical annoyance needed for the elephant to avoid the area taking their herd with them  
Dr Ben Allen

USQ is continuing to develop the technology for other applications seeking a lower impact higher success solution for other species like dingoes, African wild dogs, baboons, camels, feral horses and goats.

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