South Africa researchers use Internet of Things tech to fight rhino poaching

By Muthoki Mumo | Business Daily, Kenya September 21, 2017

Technology companies are harnessing Internet of Things technology to fight rhino poaching in South Africa by installing smart, tracking collars on herd animals.

Herd animals living close to endangered rhinos, such as zebras, will be fitted with smart collars. The collars will then be used to track the animals’ behaviour, data which will be analysed to detect when the animals sense different types of danger and start moving around.

Data collected will be used as a proxy to predict the dangers that face the rhinos. Game reserves will be able to remotely predict what may be after rhinos and respond accordingly.

The project is being carried out using IoT technology from American multinational IBM and runs on the network of South African telecom firm MTN. The Dutch Wageningen University has carried out the research that underpins the predictive capabilities of the technology.

“The predictive nature of this solution takes away the reliance on game reserve teams to be in the right place at the right time, or to respond to events, such as the distant sound of gunfire; and the teams can take proactive action that keeps rhinos safe,” said IBM in a statement on Tuesday.

Wageningen University’s research has shown that prey animals react in different ways, depending on the threat that they face from predators such as lions, leopards or even from the presence of human beings.

The project is initially being piloted at the Welgevonden Game Reserve in South Africa but there are plans to expand it to other reserves in the future.

Data collected on the animal behaviour includes information on their location, their movement, direction and speed of travel. The university uses this data to develop “20 rule-based patterns” that indicate different types of threats.

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