Is radio frequency identification the appropriate technology for this application?
RFID technology is relatively short-range. A typical passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) tag has a read range of up to 30 feet (9.1 meters). Active RFID transponders employ a battery to broadcast a signal and have a read range of up to 3,000 feet (914 meters) or more, depending on the system. So RFID is not useful if you want to track wild animals over hundreds of miles of land. GPS is a better solution in this case.
However, RFID has been used to track the white-lipped peccary, a type of wild pig native to the Amazon. In this case, the animal tags were interrogated when the peccary approach feeding areas, where readers were set up. In addition, Namibia put active RFID tags in the horns of rhinos. Relay stations were set up to capture the animals’ ID numbers and transmit location information back to a central monitoring station (see WWF Using Simple RFID System in Complex Project).
The Dallas Zoo, meanwhile, used RFID to monitor elephants at an 11-acre habitat (see RFID Goes on Safari). Researchers put low-frequency tags on penguins to study them, placed readers in remotely controlled cars with penguin dolls on them, and then drove the vehicles up to the birds to read their tags and track their behavior.
I hope these articles prove helpful.
—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor, RFID Journal
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