9 June 2020
Salsa Digital

Herd tracking from space

The CSIRO recently announced the launch of a new herd-tracking project, which is the largest satellite herd-tracking program in the world. The project will run for three and a half years.

The program’s goal is to help track and ultimately manage large numbers of wild buffalo and cattle in the Top End. These animals are considered pests and are damaging the environment and interfering with the area’s agriculture.

The project will also provide economic and environmental benefits to Indigenous communities in the area.

How satellite herd-tracking works

Animals are tagged with GPS tracking devices, and monitored using satellites. The data provides real-time insights into a herd’s density and movements across a large area (over 22,000 square kilometres) of the Northern Territory and Queensland. This data can then be used to work out the best way to manage the herds and will help rangers and land managers focus their efforts in high-risk areas. It will also help protect culturally significant sites.

Joint project

The project is funded by the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment under the National Landcare Program; Smart Farming Partnerships initiative. It combines expertise from the CSIRO, Charles Darwin University, James Cook University, Kinesis (satellite company), and the North Australian Indigenous Land and Sea Management Alliance (NAILSMA).

Salsa Digital’s take

While satellite and GPS technology isn’t new, its use in satellite herd-tracking is an innovative case of digital transformation. This particular project also shows how the government can work with multiple partners to deliver something that provides multiple benefits, in this case to the environment and Australia’s Indigenous communities.

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