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New Remote Cameras Could Help Fight Poaching in Kenya

New Remote Cameras Could Help Fight Poaching in Kenya

Remote cameras have been used for a while to help give us a glimpse of wild animals in their natural habitat that we may not otherwise ever be able to see, but now they’re going to be used to help protect some of the world’s most endangered species.

Real-time images of rare and endangered species are now being sent out as part of the Instant Wild project, which is the result of a collaboration between the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), Cambridge Consultants and Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS).

Thanks in part to a generous grant from Google’s Global Impact Awards, the three organizations collaborated to come up with a new system to help keep track of endangered species in remote parts of the world and protect them from poachers. Together they came up with a system of cameras that are motion triggered and connected by the Iridium satellite network –  the only commercial satellite system with full coverage of the earth – along with an iOS app.

To do this, they had to deal with problems from having to go out and change batteries, getting the images out in real-time, taking pictures in the dark and placing cameras in spots that won’t give away the location to poachers. The resulting cameras are run on micro computers that can run on a single battery for a long time, use an LED flash for taking photos at night and are tough enough to withstand a beating from both the weather and wildlife.

As a result, people around the world can help keep an eye on wildlife by accessing these images via an app or the website and help identify animals by matching images with a field guide, which will help conservation staff who are monitoring the images analyze data faster. The cameras are also intended to detect poachers, particularly when it comes to species like rhinos and elephants, and may provide evidence for prosecutions. According to the ZSL, a rhino is killed every hour in Africa due to the demand for their horns.

“The cameras have the ability now to instantly transmit images of intruders to park rangers,” Richard Traherne, head of the wireless division at Cambridge Consultants, told Mashable. “In the future, ZSL are investigating options to detect vehicles from vibrations and triangulate the sound of gunshots, so that park rangers can pinpoint the location of poachers and intervene immediately. The cameras use infrared flash technology not using white light to not scare the animals or make the poachers aware of their presence.”

The creators are starting with Kenya’s Tsavo National Park, but have plans to expand to other remote areas, including Sri Lanka, Indonesia and the South Pole, once the system is up and running.

“This technology will enable us to make a significant breakthrough in our day-to-day work with endangered species. We manage around eight per cent of the total land mass of Kenya – and these cameras will be critical in helping us monitor the wellbeing of rare animals and ensure their habitats remain protected from poachers. Through our work with ZSL and Cambridge Consultants, we want to help raise awareness of vulnerable species and the risks they face every day,” said Patrick Omondi, deputy director of wildlife conservation at KWS.

If you’re interested in getting involved, you can find more info at Instant Wild or download the iOS app from the iTunes store.

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Photo credit: Thinkstock

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142 comments

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3:47AM PDT on May 17, 2014

interesting article, thanks for sharing :)

5:44PM PST on Dec 1, 2013

Absolutely ANYTHING that will stop the horrific massacres by these poachers. This is a great idea that will be expensive but the poaching has to end. No amount of money will bring back these awesome animals. When patrols witness poaching, they should shoot to kill.

10:27AM PDT on Oct 22, 2013

What a truly remarkable idea. Love that members of some species thought to be extinct have been sighted already. Hope it helps catch some poachers too.

9:43AM PDT on Oct 11, 2013

Praying this war against {all} animals ends now........and hope desperately that the cameras help with this war on poachers. The only good poacher is a dead one.

7:37PM PDT on Sep 19, 2013

great idea; I hope these remote cameras lessen the poaching. ty

10:23PM PDT on Sep 15, 2013

It is a wonderful idea. How ever one of the major problems here is that the Government does not give the poachers the Punishments to fit their crimes. Ban the poaching & incase if any one does the illegal poaching no questions asked simply cut their hands from the wrists. Shoe the others the punishment is going to be such hence do not do the crimes. No poaching their hands will be intact to the body. Period. Whay Japanese don't rob? because the punishments are so severe. Why some capitals in some countries they are so afraid to do crimes because the punishments are so harsh. Amend the rules and tighten & increase the punishment for poachers. That is the ONLY language some of those morons will understand.

7:25AM PDT on Sep 15, 2013

i hope this is the start of more positive developments for them. the animals are being slaughtered on a daily basis with no control.

2:41PM PDT on Sep 14, 2013

Why don't this nation donate some of its drones to help the cause of deterring poachers?

10:01AM PDT on Sep 14, 2013

Hope this really works finding and arresting poachers.

6:10AM PDT on Sep 14, 2013

(continued last bit from previous post thanks!) We want to reach the populations growing up to revile these atrocities by taking personal interest and ownership of our magnificent wildlife as well.

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