By Kim Helfrich
If rhino poaching continues at its current rate the South African rhino population will shrink by over 900 come year end.
While it appears poachers have the upper hand in what SANParks chief executive David Mabunda has called “a low intensity war” against those intent on killing as many rhino as possible to supply a burgeoning Far Eastern market more anti-poaching initiatives are in the pipeline.
Another effort to cut the carnage could soon see another aerial platform keeping a weather eye on poachers and their nefarious actions.
In collaboration with the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), a 40-year-old conservation non-government organisation, Americans Professor Tom Snitch and Chris Miser, designer of the Falcon unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), came to South Africa earlier this year.
Snitch’s department at the University of Maryland has developed mathematical algorithms which provide geospatial predictive maps using high resolution satellite images. These can be used to predict high risk poaching areas at any particular time – a good indicator of where a UAV should be flown and anti-poaching units deployed on the ground.
The pair and Miser’s Falcon were given permission to use Craig Spencer’s Olifants West Nature Reserve as a trial ground. More....