By Alex Olesker
With the help of the Zoological Society of London, the Kenyan Wildlife Service is gearing up to deploy satellite-linked cameras in the fight against wildlife poachers.
These motion-triggered cameras, developed by Cambridge Consultants, will be deployed in remote areas of Tsavo National Park and, if successful, may expand to the other 21 national parks, 28 national reserves, and five national sanctuaries that comprise the roughly 8 percent of Kenyan land that’s under the stewardship of the Kenyan Wildlife Service.
The cameras can weather the elements and survive contact with wildlife and can be hidden almost anywhere. They automatically upload near-real-time images of wildlife through the Iridium satellite network to a mobile application that can be accessed from anywhere and helps identify the animals. Aside from better tracking and monitoring of wildlife populations, the system will assist with early warning and prosecution of poaching.
This system of satellite cameras can help turn the tide in Kenya’s losing battle with wildlife trafficking. Despite a growing corps of over 3,000 relatively well-trained and well-armed rangers, the high and rising price of wildlife products such as rhino horn and ivory combined with Kenya’s remote expanses and the sophistication of its poachers and traffickers have led to a dramatic decline in the local wildlife.
The population of elephants, for example, has fallen from 167,000 in 1967 to fewer than 40,000 today, while the wild rhino population has gone from 20,000 in 1969 to only 539. Kenyan authorities reported roughly 350 elephants poached in 2012, three times as many as in 2008, and this year Kenya has already lost 35 rhinos killed compared to 29 last year. As more meticulous poachers may hide or destroy the evidence, those figures are all approximations — and getting a better grasp of the ecological devastation will be another benefit of the satellite camera system. More....