Video: New Rhino Cam Could Help Thwart Poachers

Candice Gaukel Andrews August 6, 2015 5
This scene comes from a “rhino cam,” a small camera embedded in the top horn of a rhino. ©From the Protect video “‪Protect RAPID anti-poaching system‬”

This scene—with the lower horn of a rhino front and almost center—comes from a small camera embedded in the top horn of a rhino. ©From the Protect video “‪Protect RAPID Anti-Poaching System‬”

In 2014, poachers killed more than 1,200 rhinos in South Africa, which is about one death every eight hours. Numerous methods of thwarting these criminals have been advanced in the past several years—from painting horns pink to relocating rhinos by helicopter to creating synthetic horns—but still the slaughter continues. If this rate of carnage goes on, rhinos could go extinct within the next decade.

But just last month, in July 2015, it was announced that a team of British conservationists came up with yet another new idea to help defeat rhino poachers. Under a system called RAPID, which stands for Real-Time Anti-Poaching Intelligence Device, rhinos are being equipped with small cameras embedded in their horns.

Since 2008, there has been a huge surge in rhino poaching. In 2014 in South Africa alone, poachers killed a record-breaking 1,215 rhinos. ©Olwen Evans

Since 2008, there has been a huge surge in rhino poaching. In 2014 in South Africa alone, poachers killed a record-breaking 1,215 rhinos. ©Olwen Evans

The United Kingdom-based nonprofit Protect, which developed the RAPID system, say that the cameras can be installed in the horns of rhinos without causing pain or harm to the animals. The pachyderms are also given GPS tags and heart-rate monitors. Then, when a RAPID-equipped rhino is chased and attacked by poachers, its swiftly changing heart rate will alert operators at a control center, who will then turn on the camera. If poachers are observed in the live video feed, authorities can be sent to the animal’s aid in a matter of minutes using the transmitted GPS coordinates. This new ability to so quickly respond, it is hoped, will leave poachers with little or no time to harvest horns or escape from the scene.

Protect plans to widely deploy the RAPID system over the next couple of years in places such as South Africa. Knowledge of this new, high-tech system alone might be enough to deter poachers, forcing them to think about the higher probability of getting caught.

Below is some sample footage from a rhino cam. The camera is positioned in the rhino’s top horn, so it isn’t an exact depiction of what the animal actually sees. But if such a camera manages to catch a poacher in action and save the life of even one rhino, that’s a beautiful perspective, indeed.

Here’s to finding your true places and natural habitats,

Candy

5 Comments »

  1. Darren Lee August 19, 2015 at 11:36 am - Reply

    Not to long ago, I saw a picture of animal conservation groups painting the tusks of elephants and horns of Rhino’s bright colors to make them valueless to poachers. It has no negative impact on the animals and will stop greedy poachers from killing animals.

  2. Gregory Sweeney August 18, 2015 at 9:03 am - Reply

    Very interesting. This could work with just the heart rate monitors and gps if the rhinos are in a smaller or well patrolled area.

  3. Frankie Laney August 18, 2015 at 9:01 am - Reply

    I’m all for anything to stop the poachers, but why would we talk about a possible covert filming of the hateful people who kill the rhinos? Seems to me that would give them an opportunity to mask their identity. If they do not know about this type of monitoring then surely the people who buy the horns would alert them. Why alert the enemy to our strategies?

  4. Bongani Mnisi August 18, 2015 at 8:51 am - Reply

    I think this system might help Identify poachers, but they’ll kill Rhinos before law enforcers reach them. I hope it works to prevent it.

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