Dimension Data, a technology company based out of South Africa, and Cisco have teamed up to launch a project called Connected Conservation to protect the endangered animals across the globe. To start with, the Connected Conservation project would use high-end technologies and innovative methods to protect the rhinos being poached at a private forest reserve near Kruger National Park in South Africa.
Over time, the technology will be replicated in other reserves in South Africa, Africa, and globally, to not only protect rhino, but conserve other endangered species including elephants, lions, pangolin, tigers in India and Asia, and even sea rays in the ocean.
The method Dimension Data and Cisco have deployed is a evry simple one – to monitor and control human access to the forest reserve by using sophisticated technologies. These technologies would proactively intervene and stop people entering the reserve illegally – whether it’s cutting fences, being dropped onto the ground by helicopters, or simply driving in through the entrance gates.
Dimension Data executive, Bruce Watson explains: “Every day, hundreds of staff, suppliers, contractors, security personnel, and tourists enter and exit game reserves. The human activity in these environments is not monitored because, typically, the reserve is in a remote location with basic IT infrastructure and access control, manual security processes, and very limited communication.
“With our Connected Conservation technology, we don’t touch the animals by darting them with tranquilisers to insert sensors into their horns, or insert a chip under their skin. This can be extremely stressful and risky for the animal and we’ve seen a number of rhinos either dying, or going blind, and having to be euthanased.
In phase one of the project, Dimension Data worked closely with Cisco to gather information from the game rangers, security personnel, technology, and control centre teams. The first step was to create a highly secure Reserve Area Network (RAN) and install Wi-Fi hotspots around key points, which is completed.
Phase two of the Connected Conservation project will incorporate CCTV, drones with infrared cameras; thermal imaging, vehicle tracking sensors, as well as seismic sensors on a highly secure intelligent network. Dimension Data has also deployed the Reserve Area Networks (RANs) using Cisco technology which will be one of the first installations of its kind in the world.
According to the South African Department of Environmental Affairs’ Report 2015, a staggering 1,215 rhinos were killed by poachers in 2014 alone. This equates to three rhinos being killed every day. If the rate of poaching continues, rhino deaths could overtake rhino births by 2018, and the rhino could be non-existent in South Africa by 2025.