Endangered rhinos at risk will soon be fitted with spy cameras in a preventative measure to end poachers slaughtering them for their much sought-after horns.
The device will be embedded into the rhino’s horn with minimal harm to the animal, which will also be assigned a heart-rate monitor and a satellite tracking collar to triangulate the rhino's whereabouts in order for rangers to quickly reach the creature if in sudden danger from poachers.
With video evidence and data directly from the animal, prosecutors will also be able to put poachers on trial in court. It’s also hoped that these defensive efforts will deter would-be poachers.
Working with endangered rhino populations for over 15 years, conservation scientist Dr. Paul O’Donoghue from University of Chester, England, developed the anti-poaching system.
With a rhino butchered every six hours in Africa, O’Donoghue said: "We had to find a way to protect these animals effectively in the field – the killing has to be stopped. With this device, the heart-rate monitor triggers the alarm the instant a poaching event occurs, pin-pointing the location within a few metres 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."
Since 2007, rhino poaching in South Africa has increased by over 9,000-fold. These vast expanses of land are near impossible to patrol fully, so poachers can often slip through unnoticed.
“Poachers could find a way through,” said Dean Peinke, a mammal ecologist from the Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency in South Africa, remarking on the penetrable defenses of the army patrols used to protect the rhinos. “They are well organised and equipped, and they will find gaps in almost any defence because the rewards are so great. These devices tip the balance strongly in our favour. If we can identify poaching events as they happen, we can respond quickly and effectively to apprehend the poachers."
Due to be tested in South Africa soon, this innovative tracking system will also be implemented for elephants and tigers.
[H/T: Press Release: weareprotect.org]