AFRICA ON THE RISE PEOPLE & PLACES TECHNOLOGY

The Role of Kenya’s Tech in Fighting Wildlife Poachers

Africa is at the verge of losing its endangered species of wildlife to poachers. In a bid to safeguard the rare species of wildlife, for instance, the white rhino, rangers have embarked on adopting anti-poaching equipment. The rangers use a 360 degrees cameras to survey the area round the clock and report any intrusions to the headquarters for armed rangers to intervene. This camera is the most common technology in the Ol Pejeta Park, a private wildlife conservancy at the Laikipia Plateau. This reserve inhabits the only remaining white rhinos on earth thus tight security measures should always be put in place. Ol Pejeta also homes the biggest number of black rhinos in Eastern Africa that graze peacefully on its bushes thanks to the emerging technologies to protect them.

“What’s bothering me in the world of wildlife protection is our slow pace of developing new technologies and putting in place new ways of doing things,” said Richard Vigne, the director general of Ol Pejeta Game Reserve.

Indeed there’s a need to act fast before things get worse for our rich African flora and fauna. Research shows that the rhino’s horn is a very sought-after medicinal product in some parts of Asia, where it’s worth much more than gold. That explains why the poachers would stop at nothing until they have these rhinos dead.

The 250 rangers at this reserve are always vigilant to ensure that the wild animals are safe from the hands of the merciless poachers. In fact, computer engineers are testing the next generation of animal tracking chips and developing sensors to help monitor the health of the rangers as well as the river levels at a go. These are just a few technologies that are affordable since most of the innovations are so expensive to afford. “It’s all very well having one or two parks in Africa with lots of techs, but if that is really costly to the point that nobody can have it, then it’s a waste of time,” said Richard Vigne.

“We are very much at our infancy when it comes to this stuff. It is pretty cutting-edge from a conservation perspective,” said the Chief executive of Ol Pejeta, Richard Vigne. There’s more technology the researchers are working on, the most innovative one is a chip that is small enough to fit in the horn of the rhino. This would give all the details of the animal including its location. Damian Otieno a conservation tech engineer in Kenya is happy that no one is testing this in Kenya and it’s, therefore, a unique innovation that is deemed to change the whole scene of wildlife protection.

The 360 square-km (90,000 acres) bushland grazed by over 110 rhinos and other species, can now have a sigh of relief after the fitting of three motion-triggered cameras with artificial intelligence. Gone are the days when the only way to detect a poacher was by seeing him. The artificially intelligent cameras are swift enough to detect any disturbances on the animals, then send the alert to the headquarters in the blink of an eye.

For two years in a row, Ol Pejeta has not experienced any poaching activities, thanks to anti-poaching technological equipment. Though these are great stats, the war is still on since recently two rhinos were killed in the Meru National Park, which is in the Mount Kenya region. This means that the tech startups to curb this vice should be spread far and wide.

For a poaching-free Africa, there not only need the thermal imaging cameras but also other techniques that help in harnessing this fight. The excellent network at Ol Pejeta facilitates everything from security breaches to rangers monitoring. In fact, all the data here is captured in a digital dashboard that is accessible through a simple touch by the finger. When the poachers show up, the screen of the digital dashboard can’t help but show a pair of flashing handcuffs. This prompts the whole armed rangers to be deployed to the affected part of the sanctuary thus keeping away the intruders.

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