There is more poaching, deforestation and destroying of our environment now than ever before. The damage humans are doing is in critical stage and if we don’t do something drastic about it soon, we will lose our beautiful forests and wildlife before you know it. Thankfully technological developments can assist us to a great extend finding and fighting well equipped, skilled poachers.
These are 3 ways Technology is helping to save our environment
1. Drones to detect rhino poaching.
With the rise of the Asian middle class demanding ivory, the illegal wildlife trade is estimated at $12 billion a year according to WWF. The war against ivory poachers in South Africa is drastically being lost with over 500 rhino’s killed so far this year, on course to break its 2013 record of 1004 rhino deaths.
Our national army has been sent to help rangers in the Kruger National Park to take on the poachers, but with poachers one step ahead by hunting at night with night vision goggles, silenced weapons and covering areas which is hard to get to on foot, there are daily reports of violent gun battles we are losing.
Technology has stepped in to help. Colorado-made Falcon UAV’s (unmanned aerial vehicles) have recently been trialed on poaching areas. These drones are battery powered to keep their flight silent. They are fitted with HD infrared cameras, night vision and thermal sensors to pick out animals and anyone trying to track them at night. A poacher in the middle of a big park stands out like a sore thumb when you’re using infrared imagery.
The drones also have satellite internet connection for live video stream. When a white blur appears on screen, the U.A.V. will drop silently closer to earth to confirm the identity and distinguish how many poachers there are before summoning armed backup. Once arrests are made, they will have video footage to put before the courts.
2. Crowd mapping and social media to help save vultures in Namibia
Vultures are scavenging birds of prey that hover around carcasses of freshly dead animals. The circling around the carcass alerts authorities of a poached animal and a possible poacher not too far away.
This is a huge threat to poachers being caught. To prevent vultures from alerting officials, poachers are adding organo-phosphates and cyanide to poison the carcass, killing the vultures that eat them.
Joris Kormen, based in Namibia, has introduced Ushahidji Crowd Mapping, an open source platform where anyone including tour guides, tourists and residents can map online where they see tagged vultures or recovered a dead animal resulting in recordings of tagged vultures and their movements. This will reduce the number of vultures being poisoned as a result of poaching. “This tagging system allows a concerned community to make a difference, using social media to increase the return on investment in tagging birds.”
Previously only 1% of tagged vultures are seen again, now because of Ushahidji and social media, 7% of vultures have been mapped and this figure is increasing.
Watch a YouTube interview with Joris Komen about how crowd-mapping is helping to save the cultures in Namibia.
3. Rainforest Connection (RFCx) : Recycled smart phones to detect illegal deforestation
Up to 90% of all rainforest logging is illegal, destroying trees, animals and their homes. Thanks to Rainforest Connection , Old smart phones are now being recycled and transformed into solar powered listening devices to make the world’s first real time technology to protect the rain forest.
Recycled phones are placed together, hidden high in tree canopies and can detect sounds of environmental destruction such as chain saws, gunshots and animal distress calls within a square mile around it.
As soon as a sound profile is detected, an alert is automatically sent to local rangers who can intervene in real time knowing the exact location. Within the first day of testing, illegal loggers were caught in the act.
These smart phones also allow anyone from around the world to hear the sounds of the rain forest as noises the phone picks up is streamed live.