Anti-poaching agencies turn to technology

African Wildlife authorities are looking to new methods in the quest to save the rhino and other endangered species, including Kenyan officials who have been trialing text message alert systems in a desperate bid to end poaching in their reserves.

Following the tragic killing of eleven elephants last week, the Kenya Wildlife Service has been looking at new ways of alerting their rangers to suspicious activities and potential poachings. The system works by setting off alarms connected to fences around the parks and sanctuaries. If these are interfered with, an alarm sounds and the park switchboard will be SMS’ed with the location of the disturbance, at which point rangers will be sent to that location to deal with the potential poachers, who will usually have to tear fences to gain access to reserves.  Many parks are not completely fenced-off which means that this strategy is not fully comprehensive and the cost of alarms around entire game reserves makes these plans unrealistic.  The Telegraph reported that the Tsavo national park, where the family of elephants was killed is around the size of Belgium, an area far too vast to manage with fences and alarms.  However, smaller reserves will absolutely benefit from the SMS alerts, and in these cases officials predict a drop in poaching by 90%.

Where poaching is not prevented, the South African ‘Rhinoceros index’ is able to match the DNA of poached rhino horns when they are intercepted in any part of the world and determine the origin of the horn.  With 668 rhinos killed in South Africa last year alone, hopefully these new methods to prevent and deter will assist both countries to save the wildlife that they have left.


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