Could the Internet of Things Save the Rhino?

Animal poaching is a serious problem around the world, and technological innovations are being increasingly used to help stem it. In the latest example of how technology can save live, a new data analysis program, driven by the Internet of Things is being used to stop rhino poaching.

In past efforts, drones have been enlisted to help guard rhinos from the air, and some have been microchipped so their movements can be monitored. Interestingly, however, it’s not the rhinos themselves who will be directly analyzed this time around. Instead, easier-to-track zebras will be used to help them out.

Zebras Lend a Helping Hand

The zebras, along with other species like impala and wildebeest, will wear collars that track their movements and their responses to danger. The activity that is measured will then be compared to data patterns that scientists at the Netherlands’ Wageningen University have collected showing how the animals move depending on the threat in question. They have found, for example, that they typically move in a herd if approached by a lion but will scatter in chaos should they come across a hunter with a rifle. In addition, they can move a lot faster than rhinos.

These animals will essentially serve as sentinels sending out an early warning to rangers that the rhinos grazing nearby are in danger. The LORA technology collars are equipped with low-power signals that the researchers say should not affect the animals in any way. IBM’s Internet of Things will manage the data collected, which will include GPS coordinates, speed, acceleration, and the ambient temperature.

They’ve already fitted 135 zebra and buck with the collars, and they are hoping the effort will help save the critically endangered black rhino, of which there are only around 5,000 left in the world. The white rhinos’ numbers, meanwhile, have dipped below 30,000, which means they are in the “near threatened” category as poachers continue to kill them for their horns.

This blog post was based off of an article from Quartz Africa. View the original here.

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