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Wild Rhinos Get GPS Implants To Deter Poachers

Wild Rhinos Get GPS Implants To Deter Poachers

Park vets have implanted tiny GPS (Global Positioning Systems) into the horns of five rhinos in South Africa’s Mafikeng Game Reserve to help protect these endangered animals from poachers.

The GPS chips were fitted into the rhinos’ horns by drilling a small hole in the inert or dead part of the horn (BBC).

The devices allow park officials to monitor the rhinos’ every movement, and can issue alarm signals if something out of the ordinary occurs.

“It’s basically a satellite system which connects with the cell phone system and we can monitor the animals on whatever time delay we want,” Rusty Hustler, head of security for North West Parks Board, told BBC News.

Alarms can be programmed for excessive movement, so that park rangers will know if a rhino is being chased, as well as for excessive sleep, so that rangers will know whether the animal has been unconscious for more than six hours.

The chip can also inform trackers if an animal has wandered outside the confines of the preserve, putting it in extreme danger from poachers. Even if officials can’t catch the poachers in the act, the tracking devices could help them recover the animals before they are killed.

Rhino horn is a highly sought-after ingredient in ancient Chinese medicines, and in September, supermodel Elle Macpherson admitted to eating powdered rhinoceros horn as a “beauty treatment”.

South African officials have seen more than 200 rhinos slaughtered since the first of the year.

PETITION: Ask Elle Macpherson to Stop Taking Rhino Horn

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Image Credit: Flickr - Mister-E

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7:47AM PST on Mar 5, 2013

I agree with Christian R.
I still say poach the poachers for a big reward.

5:57AM PST on Mar 5, 2013

I agree with you, Marlene D, Hope S and Ken R.

10:15AM PST on Jan 16, 2013

it's a nice thought, but i don't think anyone would be able to arrive in time to help a rhino if it was in danger. on the other hand if the poachers didn't notice the tracking device it might be useful for catching whoever was trafficking the goods.

7:14AM PST on Nov 23, 2012

Thank you for sharing.

9:48AM PDT on Sep 8, 2012

Hope it helped, thank you.

9:47AM PDT on Sep 8, 2012

Hope it helped, thank you.

8:47AM PDT on Mar 24, 2012

I agree with the last two comments from Hope and Ken. It is a fabulous idea for rhinos and all wild animals PROVIDED the hunters don't find a way to use the chips to aid them in their crimes. This has happened before - hunters tapping in on these chips. So the technology and use of it always has to be constantly monitored to keep ahead of the disgusting hunters.

10:07AM PDT on Mar 17, 2012

Interesting idea if the poachers also don't use it. Perhaps shooting the poachers would really make an impact on them.

5:14AM PDT on Mar 17, 2012

I cant help thinking about waht happens if the poachers gets hold of these positions...
it would aid the poachers as much as the protectors :/

Sadly enough i still think the most efficient help we could give is armed parkguards with the right to kill poachers on sight...

11:20AM PDT on Mar 16, 2012

I like this idea better than the farming idea. It horrifies me that these beautiful creatures are slaughtered for some imagined-ignorant belief. It's hard to change peoples minds and can't believe Asians havent moved forward from their belief that Rhino horns have some magical medicinal value. I just hope when the chip sends an alart, the rangers are able to stop poachers before the Rhino pays with his life.

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