Technology for good: reinventing wildlife conservation

by NTT Subject Matter Expert

19 March 2020

Technology for Connected Conservation

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Technology has given us the ability to make a positive environmental impact, and that’s what Connected Conservation does. What began as a pilot installation using technology to protect wildlife from poaching has matured into a program to continue making a real impact in protecting both the land and the animals that inhabit it.

In 2015, with a shared passion for protecting wildlife, we partnered with Cisco to launch the Connected Conservation pilot solution. In South Africa at that time, a rhino was being lost to poaching every eight hours, which equates to 3 rhinos every day.

Designed to leverage technology and combat the threat of illegal human activity, the Connected Conservation solution provided round-the-clock surveillance of a game reserve adjacent to the Kruger National Park in South Africa, monitoring suspicious activity. And, it worked. The solution proved useful, reducing rhino poaching by 96 percent in the first two years of deployment.

A woman standing talking on a radio with a rhino in the background

Since then, the Connected Conservation solution has expanded into more regions in Africa, including Zambia and another reserve in South Africa, protecting elephants, rhinos and all species. Most recently we’ve been in Kenya where we installed phase one into a reserve forming part of the Northern Rangelands Trust, with phase two, connecting all the reserves. The solution comprises of a combination of technologies, including long-range low-power wide area networks (LoRa), radio connectivity, magnetic sensors, Earthranger, thermal cameras; Cisco Meraki; CCTV; monitoring devices and data analysis.

A unique solution for delivering positive change

The success of the Connected Conservation solution is not only the sharp drop in poaching rates but also in its innovative, proactive approach. The first-of-its-kind solution shifts the focus of wildlife conservation to track the movement of people, not animals. This means endangered animals remain undisturbed and free to roam in their natural habitat without harming them or causing them any distress through sensors on their bodies or sawing their horns/ tusks off.

The unique application of multiple technologies works together to create a virtual high-security boundary to reduce the number of poacher intrusions. These technologies include IT infrastructure, managed services, data analytics, multiscreen communication, secure network and data flow, a point-to-point reserve network, CCTV cameras, and biometric scanning.

Data and analytics are critical to success. Information collected by the technology is distributed through the reserves and into command centers where trends and patterns are identified.

The Connected Conservation solution is built to withstand the harsh elements and changeable weather patterns of rugged and remote terrain. Sophisticated equipment can overcome the limitations of the environment to provide real-time intelligence and enable preventative action against poachers.