By Graeme Hosken
Posting your rhino pictures from your game reserve getaway on social media might be inadvertently giving poachers directions to their next kill.
Poachers are scanning online photographs and videos for embedded geo-location information that will lead them to their prey.
The use of technology by poachers to locate game does not stop at social media.
Game reserves, and national and international wildlife protection agencies, are warning that the use of sophisticated technology by poachers, including drones, is on the increase.
Richard Thomas, of the international wildlife trade monitoring network Traffic, said the use of the geo-location information embedded in pictures downloaded onto social media was a worry.
"It is not just a threat in South Africa. Our staff in India have been encouraging people not to post images that contain geo-location information."
He said poachers had tried to hack into the tracking collars fitted to tigers in India to determine their precise location.
"This is something to be very concerned about," he said.
Pelham Jones, chairman of the Private Rhino Owner's Association, said: "The issue of the geo-location information in pictures being fed to poachers through social media has already arisen in Kruger National Park.
"It has become so much of an issue that parks have stopped publicly displaying information about rhino sightings."
Jones said that although private reserves were able to screen guests, this was more difficult for employees at national and provincial parks.
"The level of sophisticated technology that poachers employ is frightening. Helicopters are being used in the decimation of rhinos.
"As even more effort is put into saving and relocating rhinos, poachers are turning more and more to technology to commit their crimes."
Jones said not only were poachers using social media apps to track animals, they were also using drones.
"The police are investigating a case in Gauteng in which a drone, which is strongly suspected to have been used in poaching, was recovered after it crashed."