Croc has chip on its shoulder
A few weeks back One News featured an item about a university Master’s student using state-of-the-art tracking technology as part of her research on a salt water crocodile in Australia’s northern territories.
‘Sputnik,’ the 4.2m male Crocodylus porosus, was the ﬁrst in his species to take part in a ground-breaking satellite-monitoring program to assist in the management of the endangered reptile.
What they didn’t mention was the tracking device was “supplied and designed right here in the Village at ‘Sirtack’ Tracking Solutions.
“It’s not surprising,” says CEO Mike Kelly “not many know Sirtrack’s world headquarters is right here in Havelock North!”
Indeed the irony of a telemetry and tracking company is that the premises is hidden down Goddard Lane – you need a GPS receiver to ﬁnd it.
Sirtrack began life as commercial entity in 1986 as a division of DSIR. The experience and expertise of those behind the company preceded this date however, with many of the original founders having worked as pioneers in the industry since the 1960s when the practice of telemetry and wildlife tracking devices started to gain momentum as a viable scientiﬁc practice. It’s now a wholly owned subsidiary of Landcare Research.
“These days the technology has changed dramatically. In the mid 90′ s the initial satellite trackers were six kilograms, they are now down to 32 grams. But we’re still here for the same purpose – that is, supplying customised tracking solutions to researchers, conservationists [including Steve Irwin] and wildlife managers throughout the world,” Says Marketing Manager, Rowan Calder.
According to Mike the possibilities are endless, with the team designing and manufacturing telemetry equipment for more than 460 species of wildlife (from small insects through to heavy weights like elephants and whales), and products that have been put to the test in more than seventy countries around the world. As their biggest domestic client, The Department of Conservation use Sirtrack technology to assist with pest eradication and control in species such as deer, goats, ferrets, stoats and possums. Rowan says “we’re often approached to track all manner of things from wayward teenagers to pets. In fact Phil, one of our team, uses a product to track his cat! We’ve also assisted the coast-to-coast organisers with supplying trackers for competitors to proﬁle their progress, but that was a one-off – right now we’re happy concentrating on what we do best.
“At the moment we’re also sponsoring the Kiwi Restoration program at Lake Waikeremoana [Waikaremoana] – and here in the Bay we’re supplying pig hunters with tracking collars for their dogs.
“Our biggest market is still the international scene where we’ve gained a huge proﬁle,” says Rowan, who recently shipped 20 elephant collars to Africa – each with 6,000 pound breaking-strain collar. “The great thing about these particular collars is that after a predetemined time they’re self-releasing, which means we don’t have to anaesthetise the elephant twice, to recover the collar”
“Our company employs 21 people and we’re really committed to Havelock North and we ‘ve got strong plans to grow. The current buoyancy of the company means we’re looking at expanding to two or even three times our present size.
Photo caption – On Track: Sirtrack production technician Quinn Le Cheminant shows of one of 20 Elephant GPS/ VHF collars supplied to the Kenyan Wildlife Service. The collar weighs 10.5kg and has a breaking strain of 6 tonnes.