Protecting the Peninsular Pronghorn With GPS Collars

The United States and Mexico are using satellite technology to conserve and protect the peninsular pronghorn

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Wildlife conservationists in the United States and Mexico can now track the peninsular pronghorn for the first time.

In an effort to protect this species, eight peninsular pronghorn were fitted with GPS collars that send the antelope's location every 15 minutes for up to three years.

This subspecies of antelope can only be found in Baja California Sur, Mexico, and although it can run non-stop for an hour at speeds of up to 60 mph, it is still trying to outrun extinction.

The peninsular pronghorn faces several obstacles, according to Marco Wendt, wildlife ambassador for San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. One of the biggest is the roads that cross the antelope's natural habitat.

"Some of the reasons the peninsular pronghorn is in danger of extinction is the loss of habitat, urbanization, for example, looking for water areas in these deserts and also illegal hunting. There are many challenges they face," Wendt explained.

Their speed and the harsh environment they live in make tracking and studying the pronghorn a very difficult feat, but thanks to these collars, wildlife conservationists will be able to learn more about their movements.

"You can imagine the dry arid climate these animals endure living in Baja California and it’s very difficult to monitor these animals out in their natural habitat, but these collars give us such important information. Not only are they lightweight, but they also use solar energy," Wendt explained.

This subspecies of pronghorn is the one at greatest risk of extinction, according to Wendt.

“In 1997 we had around 170 individuals out in the wild, so a lot of people got together in efforts of saving this iconic species and I am happy to say at the moment we have around 50 that can be found in natural habitats in Baja California," Wendt said. "We have about 500 that are found in protected reserves, specifically in areas of Baja as well and we have 40 that are found in sustainable populations in zoos here in the United States.”

The expectation is that by the end of 2022 around 200 peninsular pronghorns will be reintroduced in the wild, and the GPS collars will further promote the success of the peninsular pronghorn recovery project for future generations.

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