Kenyan authorities finally have an edge on the war against illegal poaching of wildlife in national parks thanks to a new technology that uses human detection software to help catch poachers at night.
The technology, which combines surveillance cameras with human detection software, was developed by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) with the aim of empowering rangers in charge of protecting wildlife from poachers who kill endangered animal species, such as elephants and rhinos, for their prized tusks and horns and other body parts.
Nine months since the technology was installed in Maasai Mara, Kenya’s largest wildlife national park, more than 26 poachers have been arrested, according to WWF.
How It Works
In 2012, with the assistance of Google, the WWF launched a project dubbed the “Wildlife Crime Technology Project,” a global campaign that seeks to stop wildlife crime and promote the development of innovative monitoring and enforcement systems in fighting poaching.
With the $5 million grant from Google, the WWF managed to create the new thermal and infrared camera technology to allow wildlife rangers to identify potential poachers in the cover of darkness.
“The groundbreaking technology allows them to search for poachers 24 hours a day, from up to a mile away, in pitch darkness. Their [poachers] days of evading arrests are over,” Colby Loucks, Wildlife Crime Technology project head, said.
With digital monitoring systems manning high-risk areas, thermal cameras, and data integration and analysis support, this technology is able to provide rangers with real-time information about possible threats, allowing them to respond quickly.
Mass Slaughter of Kenyan Wildlife
Like most African countries, Kenya is endowed with wonderful wildlife species, including elephants, rhinos, leopards and more. Unfortunately, the majority of these animals are now facing possible extinction due to illegal poaching.
Over the last decade, the population of Kenyan elephants has declined by 30 percent; yet, elephants are still being killed by poachers for their ivory tusks.
This upsurge in poaching exists despite Kenya’s tough laws, including the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, which was introduced in 1989.
In April, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta set ablaze 105 tons of ivory, the largest pile of ivory to be burned in Kenya in decades: