South African-headquartered technology services group Dimension Data and US-based computer networking giant Cisco have announced a technology initiative that they hope will have a dramatic impact on rhino poaching.
The two companies said in a statement that they have deployed sophisticated technology in an unnamed private game reserve adjacent to the Kruger National Park to monitor and track individuals from the time they enter the reserve gates, until they exit.
“The goal is to intervene proactively and stop people entering the reserve illegally — whether it’s cutting fences, being dropped onto the ground by helicopters, or simply driving in through the entrance gates,” the companies said.
Over time, the technology will be replicated in other reserves in South Africa, Africa, and globally, to not only protect rhino, but conserve other endangered species including elephants, lions, pangolin, tigers in India and Asia, and even sea rays in the ocean, they said in the statement.
They said that according to the department of environmental affairs, 1 215 rhinos were killed by poachers in 2014 alone. This equates to three rhinos being killed every day. “If the rate of poaching continues, rhino deaths could overtake rhino births by 2018, and the rhino could be non-existent in South Africa by 2025.”
“Every day, hundreds of staff, suppliers, contractors, security personnel and tourists enter and exit game reserves. The human activity in these environments is not monitored because, typically, the reserve is in a remote location with basic IT infrastructure and access control, manual security processes and very limited communication,” said Dimension Data executive Bruce Watson.
“With our Connected Conservation technology, we don’t touch the animals by darting them with tranquilisers to insert sensors into their horns, or insert a chip under their skin. This can be extremely stressful and risky for the animal and we’ve seen a number of rhinos either dying, or going blind, and having to be euthanised.”
In phase one, Dimension Data worked with Cisco to gather information from the game rangers, security personnel, technology and control centre teams. The first step was to create a highly secure “reserve-area network” and install Wi-Fi hotspots around key points, which has now been completed.
Phase two of the Connected Conservation project will incorporate CCTV, drones with infrared cameras, thermal imaging and vehicle tracking sensors, as well as seismic sensors on a secure network. – © 2016 NewsCentral Media