With the help of new anti-poaching cameras installed in Kenya’s Massai Mara park, a total of twenty-eight poachers have been caught.
World Wildlife Fund began testing the thermal and infrared cameras in May 2016, and since then, they have been of great benefits to wildlife rangers who track ivory poachers as well as rhino horn and pangolin scales poachers.
Most poachers prefer to hunt the animals at night due to the ease in escaping wildlife rangers, but the anti-poaching cameras make identification of poachers easy.
The camera notices when a poacher enters the park at night. The technology makes use of an algorithm to determine whether the heat is coming from an animal or a person. If the case is the latter, the camera notifies a team of rangers through an alert.
There are also cameras placed in trucks, which notify the rangers of the movements of the poachers from up to a mile away. This is usually shown on a screen inside the truck.
“They go where they’re expecting to see poachers, but the camera allows them to see and find them at a much greater distance,” Fast Coexist reports Colby Loucks, director of wildlife conservation at WWF, as saying.
“Then they walkie talkie to the rest of the rangers who are out in front of them hiding, and just sort of direct them to where the poachers are coming.”
He also added that this improves the effectiveness in catching poachers, considering in time past most of the poachers usually got away.
“There’d be 10 poachers that come in a group and they would be able to identify and chase them, and maybe catch one or two, but the rest would just go and hide and they’d never find them.”
According to Fast Coexist, the rate at which poachers are caught has gone up from 0-20% to 80-90%.
“These guys are like, ‘How are you finding us?’” says Loucks. “‘What are you doing?’ They’re confused. We’ve heard local community leaders saying, ‘Don’t go into these parks because you will be seen.’”
The camera’s system is also considerably safe for the rangers as it clearly differentiates between the poacher and an animal.
The World Wildlife Fund has begun testing the technology in other parks as well as through drones in Malawi and Zimbabwe.