By Paul Redfern
A new anti-poaching device has been developed to help save the rhino population.
The technology combines a video camera, a heart-beat monitor and GPS tracking, to get information on rhino health in real time.
UK scientist Paul O’Donoghue of Chester University, who has worked with endangered black rhino populations for more than 15 years, created the ‘rapid’ detection device following a dramatic surge in poaching across the continent over the past decade, which has seen one rhino killed every six hours.
“We had to find a way to protect these animals effectively in the field — the killing has to be stopped,” said Dr O’Donoghue.
He went on: “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… You can’t outrun a helicopter. Rapid renders poaching a pointless exercise.”
A study on the device has been published in the Journal of Applied Ecology and rhino experts inSouth Africa are already backing its rollout prior to further testing across the East African region. The new device will enable rangers to be at the site of a poacher’s strike within minutes rather than hours as is currently the case.
The last remaining rhinos in Africa could be fitted with the spy cameras in their horns and heart monitors to help catch poachers in a move hailed as a “game changer” by animal protection activists. Conservationists fear that without the device, the animal could be hunted to extinction by 2035.
The system, which could also be adapted to fit animals like elephants, will be up and running inSouth Africa by early next year.