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Catching Poachers on Rhino-Cam

Catching Poachers on Rhino-Cam
technology

Protect RAPID implants hidden cameras and GPS on rhinos to catch and deter poachers

Jeb Brack
  • 31 july 2015

In 2007, poachers in South Africa killed 13 endangered rhinos. Despite a dedicated anti-poaching police force, that number skyrocketed over the years. Last year, poachers killed 1,215 rhinos, mostly for their horns, which are often harvested while the animal is still living.

Catching Poachers on Rhino-CamTo combat poachers, conservation group Protect has begun field trials of the Real-time Anti Poaching Intelligence Device (RAPID), a GPS tracking collar combined with a heart-rate monitor and video camera.Learn more: https://www.psfk.com/2015/07/catching-poachers-on-camera-project-rapid-anti-poaching.html

Posted by PSFK on Friday, July 31, 2015

To combat poachers, conservation group Protect has begun field trials of the Real-time Anti Poaching Intelligence Device (RAPID), a GPS tracking collar combined with a heart-rate monitor and video camera.

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If a poacher attacks an animal equipped with RAPID, the device alerts police and records images of the poacher.

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“We simply don’t know where or when poachers might strike,” said Dean Peinke, Specialist Mammal Ecologist for the Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency in South Africa. “To effectively patrol these vast landscapes requires an army and still poachers could find a way through; they are well organized and equipped, and they will find gaps in almost any defense because the rewards are so great.”

RAPID addresses this problem by broadcasting real-time data to anti-poaching police. Dr Paul O’Donoghue, a scientific advisor for Protect says, “With this device, the heart monitor triggers the alarm the instant heart rate rises or falls, the video camera confirms why, and if it appears to be a poaching risk the GPS pinpoints the location…rangers can be on the scene via helicopter or truck within minutes, leaving poachers no time to harvest the valuable parts of an animal or make good an escape.”

Installation of the device requires finding and tranquilizing each rhino. Protect recently completed field trials with the device as proof of concept, releasing rhino’s-eye-view footage from the tiny video camera. They hope to expand the program to include elephants and tigers, with a fully functional control center operational as early as next year.

With the recent killing of Cecil the Lion in Zimbabwe, the plight of endangered species is in the public eye more than ever before, and Protect depends on donations to bring RAPID to fruition.

Says Protect director Steve Piper, “The tide has to be turned and the Protect RAPID can do it; the only thing heading for extinction over the next decade is poaching itself.”

Protect RAPID

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