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Using Tech to Protect South Africa’s Prized Animal

In South Africa’s biggest national park, a camouflaged system of radars, cameras and sensors stands guard. The solar-powered technology is helping to protect Kruger National Park’s rhinos from poachers, and the country’s tourism industry as a result. The network can distinguish between human and animal movement and even includes an infrared sensor, so it can spot poachers at night and alert park rangers to their presence. Standing almost 12-feet tall, the system is known as “Postcode Meerkat,” after the source of its funding — European postcode lotteries — and the meerkats of southern Africa, who live in family groups protected by one of their own standing on its hind legs and watching for predators. Launched in 2016, it was developed and manufactured by South Africa’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, South African National Parks, and Peace Parks Foundation. According to Peace Parks’ website, in the first 21 months of use there was an 80% decrease in poaching incidents in areas where it was deployed. The technology is portable, meaning it can be moved to poaching hotspots, and there are plans to install it at more sites around the park.