Mobile tech to help fight poachers at Addo Elephant Park

File photo.
File photo.
Image: Reuben Goldberg

The Addo Elephant Park is adding technology to its infantry in the battle against poachers.

The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) developed Cmore (command and control collaborator) software which the park’s control centre and rangers can use on their cellphones to track poaching incidents, sightings, carcass locations, or to track rangers out on patrol.

Addo Elephant park conservation manager John Adendorff said every two-man patrol would be issued with a phone with Cmore.

“Ranger teams need the ability to detect events, follow forces in the field, collaborate and receive rapid feedback … If needed, additional forces can be deployed immediately, effectively and precisely through GPS coordinates.”

Vodacom and Celcom will provide the phones.

The environmental affairs department said in February there were 769 rhino poaching incidents last year and 71 elephants were poached in the Kruger National Park.

Vodacom’s Travis Goate said the company was “deeply committed to the protection of the planet and have built our sustainable business strategy on the premise that the success of our business is closely linked to thriving communities and healthy natural environments”.

Other technologies which are being used to fight poachers:

  • The Kruger National Park introduced Postcode Meerkat in 2016. The system collects surveillance data and other information and combines it with a radar to track what is happening in the park day and night. It was designed to overcome challenges traditional surveillance equipment suffers from such as extreme heat, thick vegetation and challenging terrain.

  • The Welgevonden game reserve in Limpopo teamed up with MTN and Wageningen University in The Netherlands to use sensors to track the movement‚ acceleration and body temperature of 117 animals in the 37,000 hectare game reserve. They used the data to determine a baseline of what was normal and abnormal behaviour for the animals so that their sensors and a computer algorithm would alert park management if the animals were threatened.

  • Dimension Data and Cisco in 2015 introduced the Connected Conservation project at a reserve near the Kruger National Park. It combines CCTV, biometric scanning, wi-fi, thermal imaging, heat maps and data analytics to protect rhinos by not tracking the animals, but the perimeter of the park to alert rangers about who comes and goes.

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