We know you hate the Internet of Things, but it’s saving megafauna from poachers
For much of this decade, organizations seeking to protect wildlife have attempted to use emerging technology as a conservation tool, allowing small numbers of people to monitor and manage data from animals over a wide area. Nowhere is that effort more focused—and more desperate—than in the regions of Africa where illegal animal trade is threatening to wipe out endangered animals such as rhinos, elephants, pangolins, and lions. Here, several organizations are applying Internet of Things (IoT) technology to protect animals, providing rangers with data that helps them intercept poachers before they can get to their quarry.
Many conservation efforts elsewhere use IoT to try to track the location of animals, such as Vodafone’s IoT tagging of Scottish harbor seals and tracking of endangered dugongs in Philippines. But in Africa, the task of protecting rhinos is slightly different—it’s about tracking people, specifically the poachers who hunt down the rhinos for their tusks.
Rhinos, of course, aren’t unique in needing such intervention. Based on data from the Great Elephant Census (GEC), a continent-wide survey conducted by Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen’s Vulcan Inc., Africa’s savanna elephant population declined by 30 percent between 2007 and 2014 for instance. That’s a loss of 144,000 elephants. Current data shows the rate of decline of the elephant population is now eight percent per year, and ivory poachers are the main reason for that decline.