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.

Skulls of rhinosSkulls of Clare and her calf, victims of the only poaching incident in Ngulia since the project started. Photo credit Martin StenmarckFor 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.

One 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 becomes one of the project managers of Smart Savannahs, a project where businesses, international organisations and others are partners. It will make use of new technology to make national parks more secure.

A family of rhinosA family of rhinos in Kolmården Wildlife Park. Photo credit Peter Holgersson ABFirst in line is the Ngulia Rhino Sanctuary in Kenya, where a refuge has been created for the critically endangered black rhino. The park rangers get 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 will be connected with radar and sensors, to make surveillance even more effective. Prior to implementation, all technology is tested in Sweden’s Kolmården Wildlife Park.

And it's working. Poacher numbers are down, and now the rhino population in Ngulia is growing. Kenya is currently the only African country where rhino numbers are on the increase.

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.

TEDx with Fredrik GustafssonShow/Hide content

Technological innovator in wildlife protection

Fredrik Gustafsson shows how a different spectrum of technological tools is used, to help the park rangers keep wildlife alive and how the digitalization of the work flows can be a game changer, with huge cost savings and increased efficiency. 

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Always an innovatorShow/Hide content