British activists in the campaign to protect endangered species like rhinos, elephants, and tigers, have taken the fight against poaching a ‘tech-notch’ higher. They have come up with a specialized camera that can be mounted on Rhinos’ horns.
The camera dubbed ‘horn-cams’ have already been tested and began transmitting POV videos from the rhinos. The camera work around the clock using a monitoring system referred to as Protect Rapid (Real-time Anti-Poaching Intelligence Device) that was developed by a non-profit conservation society, Protect. The monitoring system also includes GPS location, a heart rate monitor and now the video cameras on the animals. The system records all the real-time images being sent by the camera, the animal’s GPS locations and the animal vitals such as the heart rate. However, the animal is not under constant monitoring. It is only when its heart rate goes up and triggers an alarm from the heart rate monitor, will the camera and other tracking devices kick into action and start monitoring the animal and surveying its surroundings. The system’s operator, will then check on the animal’s state and notify the anti-poaching authorities; giving them the location of the animal.
Dr Paul O’Donoghue, the chief scientific adviser for Protect, said, “With this device, the heart rate monitor triggers the alarm the instant a poaching event occurs, pinpointing the location within a few meters so that 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. You can’t outrun a helicopter, the Protect RAPID renders poaching a pointless exercise.
Currently, only prototypes are active, but the organization is looking to launch their system on a wider scale by the end of this year.
Steve Piper, a director at Protect, said, “We expect to have the first rhino prototypes out within months and are just beginning development on versions for tigers and elephants. We hope to have a fully functional control center established early next year.”
Stakeholder has so far welcomed this innovation on anti-poaching measures on Rhino in a bid to protect the endangered species.
Dean Peinke, a Specialist Mammal Ecologist for the Eastern Cape Park and Tourism Agency said, “These devices tip the balance strongly in our favor, if we can identify poaching events as they happen we can respond quickly and effectively to apprehend the poachers; it’s very exciting to be able to work with Protect on the first field trials of the Protect RAPID with our own Southern black rhino population.”
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