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Over 85% of white rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum) and black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) are located in South Africa. The high value placed on their horn in global black markets is causing intense poaching pressure on rhino: ~5% of the global population is currently lost each year, rapidly driving these species towards extinction. Front-line rangers face violent incursions and risk death on a daily basis to protect these iconic animals.
Since 2014, we have worked with expert practitioners in South Africa to research, develop and implement low-cost thermal imaging (TI) approaches to detect poachers and reduce poaching. We have subsequently trained anti-poaching personnel at three major reserves and a leading national charity, all of whom now include TI in their anti-poaching operations and have experienced no rhino poaching since.
Additional impacts are increased safety of rangers, reductions in poaching other species, and, in time, the potential to substantially reduce the cost of anti-poaching operations by scaling back driven patrols.
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