Protecting endangered animals with the help of IoT

Protecting the world's oldest animals with the industry's latest technology.
10 May 2018

Conservation efforts in Africa are using IoT to help protect endangered animals. Source: Unsplash

The Internet of Things has not only provided many conveniences to the urban population but has also made itself useful to conservationists seeking to protect animals in the African savannas.

In Zambia, Kenya, and Mozambique, private reserves and national parks are using IoT to prevent poachers from targeting and hunting rhinos and elephants.

Connected Conservation was first piloted in a private game reserve located next to the Kruger National Park in South Africa. Since deployment in 2015, the number of rhino poaching incidents has reduced by 96 percent. In fact, last year, the reserve didn’t report any rhino poaching incidents at all.

The Connected Conservation project used a combination of CCTV, ground seismic sensors, thermal imaging, and drones, to track not rhinos, but humans. This meant that the animals are protected without affecting its natural habitat.

The sensors feed vital information to a cloud-based system, giving real-time data to rangers monitoring across various communications device. The reserve also started digitizing entry and exit data of people visiting the park, which gives a better identification system.

This is a huge change from previous processes that were largely manual. Before the project was implemented, visitor signed a register, with no systems in place that performs identity checks. It was also difficult to reach staff on the ground, with communications limited to only landlines.

With upgrades made to the infrastructure, rangers can now communicate better outdoors with WiFi mounter on radio masts. This allowed control centers to share data to the portable devices held by rangers, all through a secure channel without being intercepted.

The project in South Africa was carried out by Dimension Data and Cisco. Now, both companies want to bring these capabilities to other parts of the world and protect all forms of endangered species, including lions, pangolins, elephants, and tigers on land, and sharks and sea rays in the ocean.

Cisco Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Karen Walker, said, “More than ever before, technology has given us the ability to change the world – not tomorrow, not someday, but now.”

The next project is already underway with a strong focus on protecting elephants.