A rhino has been hooked up to the Internet of Things.
British nonprofit conservation organization Protect has developed RAPID — Real-time Anti-Poaching Intelligence Device — in order to put a stop to poaching.
Already being trialled in South Africa, the rhino equipped with the innovative RAPID has a camera embedded in its horn, a GPS tracker around its neck, and a heart rate monitor to track its pulse. If the rhino’s heart rate drops, the horn-mounted camera actives so that a control center can see what exactly is going on. If those in the control center suspect poachers are attacking the rhino, they can track it using the GPS, and send anti-poaching patrols.
“Currently a rhino is butchered every six hours in Africa, the issues are many, but there’s far too much money at stake to believe that legislation alone can make the difference, we had to find a way to protect these animals effectively in the field; the killing has to be stopped,” said Protect’s chief scientific advisor, Dr. Paul O’Donoghue, who has worked on protecting populations of endangered black rhinos for over 15 years.
Since 2007, rhino poaching has increased a staggering 9,300% in South Africa alone, where the landscape makes it difficult to catch poachers. By the time anti-poaching forces arrive on the scene of a suspected poaching, it’s often far too late. Consequently, the arrest and conviction rates of poaching are low, and there’s little to deter poachers.
“With this device, the heart rate monitor triggers the alarm the instant a poaching event occurs, pinpointing the location within a few metres so that rangers can be on the scene via helicopter or truck within minutes, leaving poachers no time to harvest the valuable parts of an animal or make good an escape,” explained O’Donoghue. “You can’t outrun a helicopter, the Protect RAPID renders poaching a pointless exercise.”
There are limits to Internet of Things technology, though. Batteries and power supplies often run out quickly, but the RAPID has been developed to minimize battery drain, so that new power supplies need only be installed just a few times over the course of a rhino’s life.
“Any business, industry or issue that produces trackable data from objects, things or devices can benefit from the internet of things,” says Tom Ajello, Founder, Makeable. “Endangered animals have been tracked for years. I can only think advancements in data tracking technology for wildlife will be a good long term thing.”
The team plans on equipping more rhinos with RAPIDs in the future, as well as find a way to harvest energy from the animal’s movements, thereby removing the need for batteries.