By Helge Denker
The Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) continues to explore innovative ways to protect valuable wildlife.
In light of the current threat of commercial poaching facing Namibia, new technology is an area worth exploring and the approach is receiving strong support from the ministry's leadership at all levels.
Trials were held at Waterberg Plateau Park from 18 to 22 November to asses a range of high technology tools that can assist in the fight against wildlife crime.
Kenneth /Uiseb, MET Deputy Director of Natural Resources Management, responsible for Monitoring, Research and Planning, opened the proceedings.
The MET is working with international partners to facilitate the use of the technology. WWF-US, under its Wildlife Crime Technology Project, is channelling funding secured through the Google Global Impact Awards to Namibia in the first field phase of the project.
Crawford Allan, director of the international wildlife trade monitoring organisation TRAFFIC North America, is the leader of the WWF project. Allan, who visited Namibia for the trials, pointed out that WWF chose Namibia to test the technology because of the country's excellent track record in rhino conservation.
MET staff spent the week working with a small group of experts to test and evaluate a variety of equipment. The international team included two unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) suppliers selected from over 50 international applicants. Wildlife tagging experts flew in from both America and South Africa.
Two specialists from a global tactical surveillance and communications company have been working with MET on surveillance technology for some time and where on hand to ensure that all of the new applications can be integrated into an overall surveillance system. The team also included people exploring cost-effective analytical software, which can be used to store and easily access all the data being gathered.
A core component of the WWF project is the use of UAVs, and their capabilities where put to the test at Waterberg.
Unmanned aerial vehicles are small, remote-controlled aircraft that can be equipped with a variety of surveillance tools such as infrared and high resolution video cameras. The UAVs can be deployed to fly remote patrols during the day or night, and send live video footage to a field operator, or via satellite to a security hub elsewhere. More....