African wildlife conservation goes high-tech

IOA Analysis in brief Genetic rescue to repopulate endangered species, drones that patrol game parks from the air to detect animals in distress, and radar and optical imaging devices that relay real-time data to conservationists’ smart phones via satellite relays are some of the tools now employed to protect the African menagerie and wildlife.

Technology is employed to keep an eye on poachers and track the movements of wild animals over the vast areas of Africa’s game parks. These include aerial drones, motion-triggered cameras and GPS chips implanted in animals. Photo courtesy Steve Roest/Wikimedia Commons. Available at: http://bit.ly/2orSPpp

Technology is employed to keep an eye on poachers and track the movements of wild animals over the vast areas of Africa’s game parks. These include aerial drones, motion-triggered cameras and GPS chips implanted in animals. Photo courtesy Steve Roest/Wikimedia Commons. Available at: http://bit.ly/2orSPpp

Key points:

  • South Africa’s giant Kruger National Park has thwarted poachers with a new radar/video imagery system combined with trained sniffer dogs and will expand its use
  • Kenya has found success with drones and motion-triggered cameras that track animal movements as well as their human predators
  • Mauritius’ initiative to save its pink pigeon population through genetic rescue will be watched as a means to preserve other African species

Africans have honoured their natural endowment of wild animals long before the lucrative tourism industry made the Big Five animals the centrepiece of world travel to the continent. Wild animals have also been a source of food and ingredients for medicines and artefacts. Killing and transporting animals is illegal but for some restricted circumstances, and yet poaching continues at an alarming rate. Yet, natural heritages are at risk as well as the tourism trade, which is drawn to the thrill of an elephant or rhino sighting in the wild. Against well-armed poachers employed by international criminal syndicates, game parks and nature reserves are launching a high-tech counter-offensive.

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