Tasneem Bulbulia, Engineering News | July 23, 2020
Gunshot detection systems provider ShotSpotter says the ranger service of the Kruger National Park has successfully achieved an almost 60% reduction in the number of rhino killed within the areas where the company’s ShotSpotter technology has been deployed.
Since November 2018, ShotSpotter has been incrementally deployed across several areas of the intensified protection zone (IPZ) in the park. These areas were specifically chosen owing to the high density of rhino living within the coverage areas and the strategic importance of these animals to the overall rhino gene pool.
During the 12 months prior to ShotSpotter’s deployment, officials at the Kruger National Park reported that 12 rhino were killed in these areas. Since the deployment of ShotSpotter 18 months ago, only five rhino have been poached in these areas, the company notes.
In that time, several poachers have also been arrested in part owing to the deployment of the technology, including the arrest of one of the park’s most wanted and high-profile poachers, the company adds.
The sheer size of the Kruger National Park makes it very difficult for rangers to detect and intercept poachers.
However, the always-on force multiplier effect of the ShotSpotter technology has enabled rangers to detect the location of gunfire incidents in under 60 seconds. The resultant speed and accuracy of the response provides the rangers with greater opportunity to catch poachers red-handed and recover rifles, ammunition and other poaching equipment, and aids in the gathering of evidence, which is critical for a successful prosecution.
“ShotSpotter has allowed us to take back the night. We now have an interception rate well above 50% within the coverage area, which means the poachers are flipping a coin when they come in.
“ShotSpotter is a powerful real-time intelligence tool that, combined with the skills and dedication of our rangers, the K9 unit and the Air-wing, is being successfully leveraged in the prevention and reduction of rhino poaching,” says Kruger National Park head ranger Ken Maggs.
ShotSpotter gunshot detection technology was originally created to combat urban gun violence. ShotSpotter Labs, the technology innovation arm of ShotSpotter with a mission of helping protect wildlife and the environment, adapted the system to work in harsh climates and without electricity.
Financially, the introduction of ShotSpotter to the Kruger National Park was made possible by a donation from international donors through the Care For Wild Rhino sanctuary, which is focused on saving orphaned baby rhinos whose mothers have been shot and killed.