Park rangers use IoT in mission to save endangered black rhinos
Park rangers use IoT in mission to save endangered black rhinos

Park rangers use IoT in mission to save endangered black rhinos

Connected tech company The Internet of Life has teamed up with conservationists the ShadowView Foundation to protect endangered black rhinos with IoT sensors.

The organizations have implanted LoRaWAN-equipped sensors directly into the horns of these animals, giving park rangers the ability to monitor their whereabouts and activities to keep them safe from poachers.

Part of a wider LoRaWAN IoT Smart Parks solution that’s being rolled out in several national parks across Africa, this phase of the operation was conducted in Tanzania.

Rhino Sensor implanted in animal's horn
Rhino Sensor implanted in animal’s horn

Read more: Zebras enlisted in IBM’s IoT-based battle to keep rhinos safe

Actionable data

With the specially designed trackers, park security personnel can keep check on the location of animals within the sanctuary – meaning they always have access to actionable data. The deployment was supported by Semtech and Kerlink.

The LoRaWAN network’s cost-effective, energy-efficient and long-distance connectivity (up to 30 kms) was used in the project, ensuring speed and accuracy.

Kerlink’s geolocation-ready gateway was also combined with Semtech’s geolocation solver,  eliminating the need for GPS systems. The latter consume far more energy.

Read more: London Zoo turns to IoT to tackle global poaching menace

Powerful tech

According to the companies, the systems used in the project allow the trackers to update the rhinos’ location a couple of times per hour. Other technologies would only be able to do this once or twice a day.

This increase of detailed data is sent to an observation room where the tracked items appear on a digital map, giving specialists the ability to keep their eye on animals right around the clock.

To expand the project, ShadowView and The Internet of Life have received support from the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). They’re looking to increase the coverage of the protected area so that all rhinos can be protected.

Other parks are using similar technology to monitor of gate open/closures through solar-powered LoRaWANbased sensors installed on the gates vehicles, tracking the whereabouts of personnel and tourists in high-risk areas.

“The brutal onslaught of poaching of rhino populations across Africa has resulted in fewer than 5,000 black rhinos remaining in the wild, 1,000 of which are the Eastern black rhino subspecies,” said project leader Tim van Dam. “Smart Parks is a new tool in the battle against poaching.”

The Internet of Life develops, deploys and maintains IoT technologies to protect endangered wildlife, including the black rhino and elephant.