A memorandum of understanding has been agreed between South African National Parks (SANParks) and state-owned Denel, the largest arms manufacturer in the South Africa, whereby Denel will make use of its law enforcement technology to help in combating rhino poaching.
Currently, the most recent reported rhino death toll for the year is a shocking 549. This is 61 more rhinos killed last year. The majority of rhinos (320) have been slaughtered and poached in the Kruger National Park.
Department of Environmental Affairs have released their latest figures and reveal that over 1 600 rhino have been wiped out by poachers during the last five years. This is equal to South Africa, on average, losing one rhino every day and a half.
Riaz Saloojee, CEO of Denel is of the opinion that ” this technology will build the ability to detect and deter would-be poachers and provide early warnings to law enforcement officials deployed on the ground”.
Advanced technology for game reserves
Saloojee brought attention to the fact that Denel has, through the years, designed and produced highly sophisticated law-enforcement technology to be utilized at home and abroad. Currently, this technology is being used to fight perlemoen (abalone) poaching along South Africa’s west coast. In 2007, as a consequence of extreme poaching, perlemoen was declared an endangered species in terms of CITES regulations, however the status ended up being removed in 2010 once the illegal trade appeared to have subsided.
Denel will supply game reserves with cutting-edge surveillance and monitoring technology in combination with helping in the training of rangers to operate and interpret data from the technological devices.
Dr David Mabunda, CEO of SANParks, is positive that this initiative will assist to greatly reduce incidences of rhino poaching. “Though we admit that we have lost a few battles, and suffered a few bloody noses, we have no intention of losing this war,” he said. “We will fight until the last man or woman standing to save the nation’s heritage.”
For security reasons no details of the technology can be disclosed.
Rhinos get their own app
While Denel’s technology will with any luck, detect poachers prior to them getting to the rhino, two South Africans are, in addition making use of modern technology to raise funds and awareness of rhino poaching.
Anyone with a smartphone or tablet will now be able to download Rhino Hero, an application developed by
Social entrepreneurs Chris Masters and Alasdair Muller have developed a smartphone application Rhino Hero. Currently, it is only available on Apple devices and will eventually be available for Android.
The pair, who started their company ShortBlackMocca together, declared that 50% of the cash raised from the app’s downloads is going to be donated to the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), a prominent conservation effort which has been at the forefront of the poaching war.
Anyone and everyone can be a rhino hero
Rhino Hero centers on and revolves around the rhino Zama (isiZulu, meaning “to make an effort”) along with his endeavours to safeguard and protect his species. As outlined by Masters, the game is built to produce awareness and drive support by providing individuals an enjoyable solution to interact with the cause, which happens to be close to the hearts of many South Africans.
Zama does not have x-ray vision or super strength, rather his strength arises from the people who support his cause. The player launches Zama into poachers’ camps, driving him to take charge and eradicate the camps, one by one, scoring points and going up a level after reaching a certain number of points.
“The beauty lies in the way the game mirrors the Save the Rhino campaign,” said Masters. “One person, or in the case of the game, one rhino, really can make a difference.”
To date, there have only been 222 arrests made by South African authorities when it comes to rhino poaching. A dismal figure to say the least given the number of rhinos killed annually. Recently, a Thai national Chumlong Lemtongthai, was arrested and sentenced to an unprecedented 40 years in prison, which has been welcomed by the South African government .
Justice minister Jeff Radebe praised the country’s National Prosecuting Authority for their effort and work in bringing Lemtongthai to book.
“Rhino poaching and smuggling threatens the government’s efforts in preserving our environment and economic stability of the country,” said Radebe in a statement.