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New Tech Helps Catch Poachers Red-Handed

Catching poachers was almost impossible until this Dutch company invented a new type of camera.


Illustration of new anti-poacher camera trap
Credit: Hack the Planet

Poachers are the long-standing enemy of wildlife conservation. In national parks across Africa it can be almost impossible to catch poachers red-handed. While many areas have camera traps which record movement in the park, conservationists can usually only watch the footage every 6 months when they go to change the battery. It is, of course, little use know a poacher was in the area so long ago.


That’s where Dutch tech company Hack the Planet comes in. "So we developed a smart camera system that can, in real time, track down people or animals in huge remote areas,” explains Hack the Planet’s engineer, Thijs Suijten. Solar panels are attached to the camera trap to power it.


It’s then hooked up to a computer which downloads and analyses the images. The best part is that all of this happens in real time so poachers can be caught in the act. It's basically an AI camera trap.


“This minicomputer uses artificial intelligence to automatically classify whether there's an animal, an elephant or human in the photo. And then we use the satellite modem to send that information through space directly to the phones of rangers within minutes."


Hack the Planet have also developed a mobile phone sensor system to help alert rangers to the presence of potential poachers. “If we can detect cell phones in parks then rangers can in real-time see where suspicious activity might be happening in their park, and [can] act upon it,” Thijs Suijten adds.

 
Akashinga female anti-poaching unit, Zimbabwe

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