Lions who send text messages
November 25th, 2011
05:47 PM ET

Lions who send text messages

By Brandon Griggs, CNN

Conservationists in Kenya are receiving SMS messages these days from an unlikely source: Lions roaming the savannah.

No, the lions haven't somehow morphed into thumb-happy adolescents, texting messages such as "Just 8 a gazelle. Yum. LOL." Instead the animals wear GPS-enabled collars that send automated messages via wireless networks to researchers who map their locations.

"GPS collars have fundamentally changed the way that lion research is done, in that we are able to study lion movements in great detail in areas where it is usually impossible to follow them," says a post on the website of Living with Lions, one of the conservation research groups behind the project.

According to the group, the population of lions in Africa has plunged in recent years from more than 100,000 to about 30,000 - in part because local Maasai herders, concerned about lions preying on their livestock, have been poisoning the animals.

For years, scientists have tracked the movements of lions and other wild animals with VHF collars that emit radio signals. The data helps researchers to better understand the animals' social structure, mortality rates, feeding ecology and other behavior.

But that method requires workers in the field to search for the radio signal from the collar, then record the lion's location on a handheld GPS - a cumbersome process.

The newer GPS collars calculate the exact location of the lion every hour and send a text message to a dedicated server, which then translates it into an e-mail. The data then is aggregated on an open-source satellite map that displays the lions' movements, allowing researchers to know when the big cats have strayed too close to livestock herds.

Made by a U.S.-based company, Ground Lab, and Vectronic Aerospace of Berlin, Germany, the collars are costly - more than $3,000 apiece in some cases - and have been fitted on only 10 lions so far. But Living with Lions and related conservation groups are hoping to raise funds to buy more.

Ground Lab helped fund the lion-tracking program through more than $10,000 in donations on Kickstarter, a site that lets inventors and entrepreneurs seek crowdsourced funding for their projects.

The collars don't look very comfortable, but Living with Lions says that animal lovers shouldn't worry.

"Wild animals adjust to wearing a collar just as a dog does – very quickly," the group's site says. "In many cases, they barely seem aware of it even when it is newly affixed, and in all cases they adapt to it within a few hours."

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    So the headline is a lie and the lions are not really texting. Bummer!

    November 29, 2011 at 6:22 pm | Reply
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      November 29, 2011 at 5:39 pm | Reply
  40. Paul

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      November 29, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Reply
      • Squeezebox

        Break-away collars defeat the whole purpose of the collar, which is tracking where the cat is! In the wild, the collar will break in no time yielding no data! If the cat stays in one place for too long, people should go looking for it. Maybe they can save it or talk to the people who killed it.

        November 29, 2011 at 3:37 pm |
  41. Layon

    Layons are too dangerous. GPS is only way of studying. Africa is evolving and soon we wont need the lions for tourists.

    November 29, 2011 at 12:06 am | Reply
    • Arnoldo

      ELEPHANTS HAVE SMALLER BRAIN THEN HUMANS READ:The brain of the elephant is lagrer than any other land mammal and it is located in the back of the skull well away from the forehead.Elephants are born with 35% of the mass of the adult brainThe elephant is among the more intelligent animalsThe brain weight of the bull African elephant is 4.2-5.4 kgThe brain weight of the cow African elephant is 3.6-4.3 kgBrain development in elephants is similar to that of humans. While the brain of the elephant is the largest in size among the land mammals, it actually only occupies a small area at the back of the skull. However, in proportion to the size of the body, the elephant brain is smaller than the human brain. Despite this, the elephant is one of the only animals along with all apes (including ourselves), sperm whales and a few other creatures who has a large brain relative to body size.

      May 3, 2012 at 12:09 am | Reply
  42. Paul Z.

    Why are we here anyway. An how long will it take for people to mind ur own biz. Ooya im abe ahater4life.all fall down.:

    November 28, 2011 at 11:46 pm | Reply
  43. nicole

    And also putting money for more collars, id say you people must not be that smart.

    November 28, 2011 at 7:06 pm | Reply
  44. Aubrie

    To bad the collars don't have mini cams too, so they can catch the nasty poachers, illegal hunters and poisoners.

    November 28, 2011 at 5:35 pm | Reply
    • goodidea

      that is a good idea, watch out. they my put a ipod touch w/ camara on there neck and get awesome survellience. Using a large WAN for internet comminication

      November 29, 2011 at 3:52 am | Reply
    • Allison L

      I agree, it is too bad that cameras don't exist to catch poachers.

      November 29, 2011 at 10:25 am | Reply
    • Scoot

      I totally agree Aubrie! Then we could feed them to the lions! Karma at it's best!

      November 29, 2011 at 11:59 am | Reply
  45. Patrick

    Next article in 2021: The lions that were saved from extinction thanks to a GPS enabled mobile phone 10 years ago now have brain tumors and are facing extinction.

    November 28, 2011 at 5:08 pm | Reply
  46. SMS Lion

    Grrr Rawr <3

    November 28, 2011 at 3:09 pm | Reply
  47. Michael

    Lions "who" send text messages? Should be "which".

    November 28, 2011 at 1:52 pm | Reply
    • AnotherKat

      The lions are performing a human action, so "who" is fine. Strict grammar should never interfere with communication.

      November 28, 2011 at 4:30 pm | Reply
      • Rigel

        Well put! It's unfortunate when people try to use their high-brow grammar tactics to make another person's point less credible or more silly. I am a huge advocate for improving grammar, but there is a time and a place. Stick to the subject matter. Save your grammar lessons for your children and close friends.

        November 29, 2011 at 11:30 am |
      • JeffinIL

        Wearing a GPS unit that texts automatically isn't performing a human action, not that your point isn't valid.

        The lion, should be "which" and it's GPS Wardrobe.

        November 29, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
  48. Lewis

    Kevin Costner in: Texting with Lions!

    November 28, 2011 at 1:24 pm | Reply
  49. Gaadffly

    Maybe they can send out for pizza, make that 3 topping ,, zebra, gazelle and impala. hehe

    November 28, 2011 at 7:51 am | Reply
  50. cindy


    November 28, 2011 at 6:54 am | Reply
    • Al

      WHY DON'T YOU?

      November 28, 2011 at 7:23 am | Reply
    • Hexdragon

      First off Cindy, STOP YELLING!!!
      second, it's not the Kenyan government that is tagging the lions, it is scientists and conservationists... But lets do what you seem to suggest, let any other species other than Man disappear. Then the only thing left to eat would be Soylent Green...

      November 28, 2011 at 7:34 am | Reply
    • Chartreuxe

      So the environment in which lions and people live doesn't matter to science and shouldn't be studied?

      Cindy, perhaps you should return to school. There's a lot to learn about ecology and predator/prey species interaction in savannah environments.

      November 28, 2011 at 3:54 pm | Reply
    • AnotherKat

      Yeah, feed your people - TO the lions! Lions are so much better looking than people, and that does seem to be the primary criterion about which species need saving.

      November 28, 2011 at 4:34 pm | Reply
  51. Kerry

    Africans have killed off one species of rhino already, now these lions are in danger of the same fate. Get DNA samples of all the animals and as Africa kills them off recreate them in another environment which is more conducive to their existence. Better than letting the species die out completely. Leaving the animals to Africa has proved risky.

    November 27, 2011 at 5:48 pm | Reply
    • kui

      I just could not keep my silence after reading your ignorant post. Let me say first and foremost that I am African, kenyan to be exact. Secondly I would suggest you do a little reseach before you blame africans on any extinction or near extinction. let me save you some time and tell it like it is. Tourists, mostly American and British hunt African game for the fun of it, Africans do it for food, protection of food( destructive elephants), protection of oneself or property, and in some unfortunate cases for illegal purposes such as ivory. I would suggest you direct you rant towards game hunters, poachers and Asian demand for ivory, instead of the general term Africans. We still have rhinos, lions,cheetas,leopards, etc. etc granted not in the numbers they once were...mmmh where are your bisons?

      November 29, 2011 at 3:04 am | Reply
      • JeffinIL

        How many bison would you like to see? They aren't endangered.
        Just don't ask about the Passenger Pigeon.

        November 29, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
      • Squeezebox

        Our bisons are on ranches being farmed for food. I'm over the age of 40 and was told they were extinct, and so I was very surprised to learn they were being ranched 20 years ago.

        November 29, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
      • HunterI n AK

        Perhaps you should research who is funding all the conservation projects in your country. Yup, its funded by the hunters all over Africa, just like it is in the USofA. Take away the big game hunters, and you will see the game go away. I personally dont like trophy hunters and if I kill it I eat it. However, it isnt practical to ship a steak from Africa to Texas, so instead most donate it to the local village. So you probably were fed by those terrible hunters if you were even in the bush. Sounds like you were a city dweller and never actually out seeing any of this yourself.

        November 29, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
    • courtney

      I have to agree you are being ignorant.

      November 29, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Reply
  52. MontanaTrace

    Would be great for our bear and mountain lions that like to dine in town.

    November 27, 2011 at 4:09 pm | Reply
  53. tsn









    November 27, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Reply
    • jimmy woo

      wing chung, chicken chow mein

      November 27, 2011 at 3:48 pm | Reply
      • Jet Li

        Herro, everyone!

        November 28, 2011 at 5:16 pm |
      • Bob Mcdorce

        ching chong bung

        November 28, 2011 at 9:09 pm |
    • Bob Mcdorce

      ching chong

      November 28, 2011 at 9:09 pm | Reply
      • Memu

        Web designers shluod also take not of the ease in navigating their sites. A definite navigation system can help users to go through the pages of the website. Important links may strategically go on the right places and menus may be placed on the best or on the left. For the website to be seen more by other people, designers may create links that will point to the web pages from the site. However, additionally they need to check broken links if you will find any. Information shluod also be made accessible on all of the pages from the website.

        July 21, 2012 at 1:31 am |
    • veggiedude

      I read a translation, and it has nothing to do with the topic at hand.

      November 28, 2011 at 10:02 pm | Reply
      • SumYungGuy*HungLo*

        the translation basically says:

        All you can eat buffet!! No eat all day, stay 4 owa, you eat you no stay, you go home

        and then something about Chuck Norris but it was slang and I cannot translate it.


        November 29, 2011 at 10:22 am |
      • Bruce Leroy

        A more accurate translation:

        Ching chang ching chong, ping ting, ooooooooohhh har har har

        November 30, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
      • Lupita

        I discovered your welobg web site on google and check a few of your early posts. Proceed to maintain up the very good operate. I just further up your RSS feed to my MSN Information Reader. In search of forward to reading extra from you later on!…

        May 2, 2012 at 10:09 pm |
    • jj


      November 29, 2011 at 6:23 pm | Reply
  54. ivan

    damn finger to big to hit the send button

    November 27, 2011 at 3:13 pm | Reply
  55. ivan

    they can haz txt its tru

    November 27, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Reply
  56. Uwe Skrzypczak

    Fantastic news for the lions in the Mara. Read here my article and here and se my children books "Simba, Duma, Tembo"

    November 27, 2011 at 3:08 pm | Reply
  57. Hi Smith


    November 27, 2011 at 3:01 pm | Reply
  58. little boy

    Mr. Sandusky, im in the fifth grade, what time can i come over? I like lions!

    November 27, 2011 at 2:21 pm | Reply
    • Rachel

      Apparently, another subject matter is in the front of your mind which certainly doesn't apply to this subject here.

      I suggest you go find some mental help.

      November 27, 2011 at 2:57 pm | Reply
  59. Leo

    txting iz gr8 4 meating lady-lions. LMFAO! damn it's hot.

    November 27, 2011 at 2:11 pm | Reply
  60. Dave

    "Ars gratia artis"
    Press send button with paw.

    November 27, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Reply
  61. Kerry

    Get DNA samples of all the animals and as Africa kills them all off recreate them in another environment which is more conducive to their existence.

    November 27, 2011 at 1:46 pm | Reply
    • pleasedotell

      Last we saw, Africa has done a better job than the nut jobs keeping the lions in tiny cages. Also conducive, what other land can they live on that gives them a huge roaming territory w/ all you can eat buffet? And don't say NY (poor thing has been the joke of movies)

      November 27, 2011 at 3:11 pm | Reply
      • Kerry

        They already killed off one of the rhino breeds.....just hate to see them keep doing that.

        November 27, 2011 at 5:39 pm |
    • wolfbard

      Africa is far from the only place to have hunted animals to extinction or near to. In North America alone we are responsible for the Passenger Pigeon, wild burros, in some regions the grey wolf is at risk of extinction, bison were dangerously close to extinction. Wild horses are extremely rare. That's just off the top of my head, there are many many more. Not to mention the many that are on the endangered list such as the polar bear, the bald eagle, peregrine falcon, black footed ferret and California condor just to name a few.

      November 28, 2011 at 8:06 am | Reply
    • Josh

      You mean like on Wall Street?

      November 28, 2011 at 7:25 pm | Reply
    • Jellomundo

      Kerry, your replies are ignorant of the facts. Who is "they?" "Africans" is a huge category encompassing hundreds of millions of people. "They" didn't kill off the rhinos. read some of the other poster's explanations of what happened to various species on the continents of Africa, North America, etc.

      November 29, 2011 at 10:16 am | Reply
  62. Necrofun

    Hey Bill, I need you to change the GPS battery in lion #73's collar.

    November 27, 2011 at 1:22 pm | Reply
  63. amy

    Lionz czn haz textz!

    November 27, 2011 at 1:05 pm | Reply
    • jj

      Kitteh can haz cheezburger?

      November 29, 2011 at 6:24 pm | Reply
  64. steve dawson

    it dosent explain how the lions text they have some sort of device in there coller but nothing says how they make the text message here. whoever wrote this might want to take another look at it and add that part in this article. you would think that they would want to set up some of the other animals on the prarie with these devices so that they could warn each other about lions in the area and they could get the younger ones to safty.

    November 27, 2011 at 1:03 pm | Reply
    • Elle

      "Instead the animals wear GPS-enabled collars that send automated messages via wireless networks to researchers who map their locations."

      Do some research on GPS systems....

      November 27, 2011 at 1:08 pm | Reply
    • McRASta

      Steve, you need to learn grammar AND spelling.

      November 27, 2011 at 1:33 pm | Reply
      • steve dawson

        wow you guys are cold.... if im not up to your level of spelling..

        November 27, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
    • Dave

      Yes, it does explain it, but that doesn't matter, you're a moron anyway.

      November 27, 2011 at 2:29 pm | Reply
      • SumYungGuy*HungLo*

        ROFL man, you haters hahaha I have so much fun at work reading ppl's replies hahaha – i need more work!

        November 29, 2011 at 10:25 am |
    • yep

      lol good job guys on trolling what appears to be a 13 year old.

      November 27, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Reply
    • Chartreuxe

      Invented spelling, the method by which Americans learn to read and fail to learn to spell and use proper grammar. Welcome to the dumbing down of America!

      November 28, 2011 at 3:59 pm | Reply
      • Viviane

        All aiplpances, and All aiplpances, and air purifiers with Motors or electronics, produce some minute ozone (TV's, computers, refrigerators included). So the answer is next to zero, and completely safe. Some air purifiers hoever do use Ozone to clean, and produce a lot more ozone. This one doesn't (sorry if I overexplained )

        February 19, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
  65. Lion

    "Just 8 a gazelle. Yum. LOL."


    November 27, 2011 at 12:38 pm | Reply
    • Alex

      yea was that pretty lol

      November 27, 2011 at 12:46 pm | Reply
    • Simba

      "I just 8 an antelope. OMG I'm so stuffed!"

      November 28, 2011 at 5:10 pm | Reply
      • Restika

        Needed to create you the litlte bit of word to help give thanks the moment again regarding the amazing tactics you have featured on this page. It was really remarkably open-handed of people like you to supply unhampered precisely what a lot of folks would have marketed for an electronic book to get some bucks on their own, even more so since you might well have done it in the event you considered necessary. These tactics in addition acted to be the great way to know that other people online have similar keenness like mine to understand a litlte more concerning this problem. I'm certain there are a lot more fun moments in the future for those who examine your blog post.

        July 19, 2012 at 5:00 am |
    • jacob

      can you talk and text?

      October 29, 2013 at 4:32 pm | Reply
  66. steve dawson

    animals are much smarter than we think they are i reckon.. they say dolfins are realy smart to. we didnt know how smart lions were probably because nobody can get close enough too them too study because they are too dangerus. very interesting article.

    November 27, 2011 at 12:35 pm | Reply
    • guyFromSeattle

      Lions are so smart – at least they don't mix "too" with "to" when they text.

      November 27, 2011 at 12:50 pm | Reply
      • Peter

        Pffff. I ges yiu nevur maid a typo inn yur laif. Get one.

        November 27, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
      • hawkechik

        . . . or have "dolfin" for dolphin.

        November 27, 2011 at 2:28 pm |
  67. Jerry Sandusky

    I have lots of kids books about lions if anyone wants to come over for story time.

    November 27, 2011 at 12:21 pm | Reply
    • Guy Random

      Shameful Jerry, but funny poster...

      November 27, 2011 at 12:39 pm | Reply
    • Bernie Fine

      Hey there, Jerr..... I have the Lion King on Blue-Ray. You invite your pals, I invite mine. What do you say......

      November 28, 2011 at 5:12 pm | Reply
      • Bob Mcdorce

        Who the hell is Jerr?

        November 28, 2011 at 9:07 pm |

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