MAY 25, 2016 7:18 AM PDT

Night vision: the super power for anti-poaching efforts


Perhaps one of the fastest-moving wildlife crime systems is rhino and elephant poaching. The intricacies of poacher’ technology and resources often overwhelm those of the protectors of these animals: the park rangers. However, thanks to the help of some novel innovations, there’s new hope for the rangers, and for the animals.
Rangers use tracking devices in anti-poaching efforts

WWF employees George Powell, senior technology advisor, Eric Becker, conservation technology engineer, and Colby Loucks,  Deputy Goal Lead and Senior Director of the Wildlife Conservation Program, have recently come together through a Google.org grant to create and develop a technology that will help “give those on the front lines of conservation a leg up”.

Because most poaching of rhino and elephants occurs at night under the cover of darkness, rangers protecting large areas of land (which is pretty much all of them) have extreme difficulty patrolling their regions for poachers. Furthermore, rangers may also be in danger themselves if poachers decide not only to slip through a fence, but attack those whom they encounter threatening their business.
Rangers catch poachers who enters parks and wildlife reserves

Enter the WWF team’s ingenuity.

Their idea involved installing a camera and software system along the border of a fence that encloses a wildlife reserve (their case study took place in Kenya). This software system would be smart enough to decipher human movement differing from that of animal movement, meaning that it could detect not only a herd of animals, but also a human figure sneaking into the reserve hiding behind or between a herd of animals. In this way, the system would be able to alert rangers of the presence of poachers, thus giving the rangers a head start in the poachers’ capture meanwhile enhancing their own security in the process.

Of course the technical logistics of actually getting a software system so complex up and running in the midst of a wildlife reserve in Kenya is easier said than done. Yet, despite various struggles, the WWF team has recently been able to successfully install the system and the Kenyan reserve has already begun seeing progress.
Sources: World Wildlife Fund, NPR, Peace Parks
About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
MAR 17, 2020
Technology
MAR 17, 2020
Flat-Panel Technology
Scientists are looking to reinvent mirrors! At least according to research being done at Los Alamos National Laboratory, ...
APR 06, 2020
Technology
APR 06, 2020
Smart Toilet: The Next Disease-Detecting Technology
The next disease-detecting technology could come to a bathroom near you—the Smart Toilet! A toilet designed to det ...
APR 30, 2020
Drug Discovery & Development
APR 30, 2020
Researchers Use AI to Accelerate COVID-19 Drug Development
Researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS) have developed an artificial intelligence platform to accele ...
MAY 07, 2020
Technology
MAY 07, 2020
Machine-Learning Algorithms Explain Why Batteries Decline
Researchers at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have used machine learning methodolog ...
MAY 24, 2020
Space & Astronomy
MAY 24, 2020
NASA Gives Green Light for Historic Crewed SpaceX Launch
It’s no secret that NASA is working closely with private contractors like Boeing and SpaceX as a part of its Comme ...
MAY 21, 2020
Technology
MAY 21, 2020
Bridging Robotic and Human Connection Through Humor
Jon the Robot, a standup comedian, notes challenges in get bookings. "They always think I'm too robotic," ...
Loading Comments...