Protecting the black rhino with technology

The rhinoceroses in Africa are in danger of extinction. They have very poor eyesight and are easy prey for poachers who can make huge profits from their horns.

 Silhouette of rhino at dawn.A new dawn for rhinos, thanks to research.
Photo credit Björn Persson
For the park rangers in the national parks of Africa, the situation resembles a war, where they, as well as the poachers, use automatic weapons. And it’s not only the rhinos that are being killed – many humans have died too.

Portrait of a man, savannah in the background. Text Fredrik Gustafsson, professor at Linköping University, is the project manager of Smart Savannahs. Photo credit Matilda von EssenOne person who is fighting to change this is Professor Fredrik Gustafsson from LiU. He researches on security and emergency management, and has seen that the technology used to protect critical infrastructure can also be used to save the great animals of the savannah. He is the project manager of Smart Savannahs, where businesses, international organisations and others are partners. The project uses new technology to make national parks more secure.

First in line is the Ngulia Rhino Sanctuary in Kenya, where a refuge has been created for the critically endangered black rhino. The park rangers have smartphones and tablets with newly developed software. Using these they can easily enter their observations of the rhinos, and of possible threats, and communicate with other rangers and with the management. The phones can be connected with radar and sensors, to make surveillance even more effective. A family of rhinosThe technology is tested in Kolmården Wildlife Park.
Photo credit Peter Holgersson AB
Prior to implementation, all technology is tested in Sweden’s Kolmården Wildlife Park.

And it's working. In Kenya the rhino population is growing quickly, and poaching has virtually stopped.

The idea is that the surveillance will be so secure that the poachers will not even dare to enter the sanctuary. And that it will soon be possible to use the technical solutions in national parks worldwide, to protect endangered species.Rhino looking into camera.Black rhino. Photo credit Björn Persson

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