Tech firms help SA nab rhino poachers

2016-04-22 16:02 - Loni Prinsloo
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A rhino that has since been killed by poachers at Zululand Rhino Reserve in KwaZulu-Natal.


Johannesburg - South Africa is using technology to keep poachers away from rhinos by tracking people moving in and out of a game reserve near Kruger National Park - whether it be by landing a helicopter, cutting through a fence or driving past the gate.

Cisco Systems and South Africa-based Dimension Data, which are carrying out the test project, have completed the initial phase of creating a secure network in the reserve and Wi-Fi hotspots.

In the next stage, thermal imaging, drones, infrared cameras, vehicle tracking and sensors will also be brought in to track people’s movements even at night.

At least 1 215 rhinos in South Africa were killed by poachers in 2014, according to the country’s Department of Environmental Affairs.

If the rate of poaching continues, rhino deaths could overtake rhino births by 2018, and the animal could be non-existent in South Africa by 2025, according to the report.

“Every day, hundreds of staff, suppliers, contractors, security personnel and tourists enter and exit game reserves,” Dimension Data Group Executive Bruce Watson said in an e-mailed statement.

“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.”

The techniques won’t have an effect on the animals like other tracking technologies, such as darting rhinos to insert chip sensors into their horns or under the skin, said Watson.

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