National 24.3.2015 07:00 am

Kruger Park goes high-tech to fight rhino poaching

Graham Dyer launching the Octacopta at the Skukuza Airport. Pic: Supplied.

Graham Dyer launching the Octacopta at the Skukuza Airport. Pic: Supplied.

The anti-poaching special unit in the Kruger National Park (KNP) is testing UAVs, or drones, in its fight against rhino poaching.

Chairperson of the SANParks board, Kuseni Dlamini said: “This aims at investigating the effectiveness of various UAV technologies as instruments in rhino protection efforts under a range of operational conditions.”

Illustrating the use of and communication capabilities of a UAV, Rob Hannaford said the possibilities were endless, Lowvelder reported.

“Poachers always felt safe to pursue their evil intentions under the cloak of darkness, but this so-called freedom is over. With the UAV’s night vision and silence as an eye in the sky during daytime, the scourge of rhino poaching will be fought with a vengeance,” said Hannaford.

Hannaford’s colleague, Otto Werdmüller Von Elgg, said being part of this exercise was a wonderful experience.

The testing of UAV technology in KNP is implemented as one component of a suite of antipoaching initiatives supported by the Rhino Protection Programme. The latter is a collaborative effort between the department of environmental affairs, SANParks, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and the Peace Parks Foundation (PPF).

The roll-out of this multifaceted programme is made possible by the generous funding from the Dutch and Swedish postcode lotteries, through the PPF.

The chief executive officer of PPF, Werner Myburg said: “This whole effort is once again testimony to the fact that there is considerable international support for our country in making every effort to conserve the largest population of the world’s rhino.”

The programme has been initiated in consultation with both the South African National Defence Force and South African Civil Aviation Authority, with the assistance of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, to evaluate the efficacy of all the different particular technologies.

– Caxton News Service

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