Cameras in rhino horns could deter poachers

Poaching has been a problem in South Africa for many years, but only in the last five or so have efforts really been stepped up to come up with anti-poaching solutions.

One company actively trying to prevent the total extinction of rhinos in Africa is Protect Rapid. It has been involved in conservation for a long time, and it thinks the solution is placing cameras inside the horns of rhinos.

The cameras are actually part of a package designed to protect the armoured animals, which also contains heart rate monitors and GPS trackers.

The company said it became clear on consultation with wildlife rangers that the teams on the ground had no way to tell the exact moment a poach was taking place. If they knew that, they could race to the scene and stop it.


“We need to know when and where the poachers are striking, as it happens. If we had some tool to alert us to a poaching event as it took place, we could be there in minutes, there would be no escaping for the poachers, no way to get horn or tusk or bone away; poaching would become impossible, we just need that tool,” Protect Rapid explained.

Dr Paul O’Donoghue explained that the heart rate monitor alerts them to stress in the animals.

“A heart rate monitor triggers an alarm the instant a poaching event occurs, and you can’t outrun a helicopter. Protect Rapid renders poaching a pointless exercise.”

To prevent false positives and to account for natural behaviour such as being chased by a predator, the team makes use of the embedded video cameras to visually verify that a poach is indeed in progress.

The company’s proof of concept research has been completed in South Africa, and the rest of the team is now on the ground fine-tuning and working out any issues that might still be present, and training anti-poaching units on the technology.

Celebrity Ricky Gervais has also thrown his support behind Protect Rapid. “Finally we might have a fighting chance of saving this astonishing species from extinction” he said in a statement.

[Source and image – Protect Rapid]


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