Technology and Innovation Against Poaching and Wildlife Trafficking
In the past two years, about 60,000 elephants and more than 1,600 rhinos were killed by poachers. The illegal wildlife trade has skyrocketed and the U.N. Secretary General, national governments and independent NGO analyses have drawn direct and indirect links between poaching/wildlife crime and transnational criminal organizations, insurgencies and even terrorist organizations in Africa. Sharply declining wildlife, particularly in Africa, has significant economic consequences since, for example, approximately 13 percent of Kenya’s GDP comes from a tourism sector where elephants and rhinos are star attractions.
The Stimson Initiative
U.S. President Barack Obama, the Clinton Global Initiative, the European Union and numerous countries in impacted regions are now significantly increasing their efforts to stop poaching and wildlife crime.
As part of this global response, the Stimson Center, in partnership with Kenya Wildlife Service, Linköping University, and a wide range of interested public and private sector partners around the world, has initiated a feasibility study at the Ngulia Rhino Sanctuary in Kenya. The project aims at investigating technology and training solution that secures the sanctuary from poachers. The model should be scalable and replicable throughout the law enforcement community, including applications for police, border security agencies and protection of critical infrastructure.
A Bottom-Up Technological Solution
Pilot project partners have developed a technical solution, which includes a software platform that will be deployed for a first surveillance system. Sensor systems will connect to that platform providing perimeter control, intrusion detection and wildlife monitoring. Advanced network and radar technologies will also be applied to provide an overview of a larger area and to detect large objects. Eventually, unmanned aerial vehicles will hover over the sanctuary perimeter providing video as well as thermal images. An in-depth technological analysis is available upon request.
Project Design and Implementation Partners
Over the past two years, project partners have engaged a wide range of stakeholders in designing this project, including several UN agencies, the World Bank, donor governments and the WWF. Global telecommunications and high technology firms have also assisted in the efforts. We are prioritizing local ownership and development and have therefore mobilized participation from ICT consultants, programmers and user interaction experts in Kenya.
In the near term, the project aims at assisting rangers and commanders in protecting rhinos from poaching. Following the successful implementation of a pilot project, this will be an environment for governments, multilateral organizations, NGOs and private industry to learn about and promote security, technology and training associated with border security and critical infrastructure protection, which are growing markets in Sub-Saharan Africa. We are also looking to scale and replicate the project.
Project’s Public Profile
The project and the idea behind it have been featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post, African media, Svenska Dagbladet, Ny Teknik, Veckans Affärer, Aftonbladet and during public events. This project is also featured in a short video and a book, Position Sverige. The website www.wildlifesecurity.se further describes the project and its bottom-up approach to address diverse challenges in security, development and conservation.
New York Times: Killing lions buying bombs [2013-08-10]
Washington Post: Break the link between terrorism-funding and poaching [2014-01-31]
Svenska Dagbladet: Svensk teknik kan rädda hotade djur [2013-11-11]
Ny Teknik: Tekniken som ska avskräcka tjuvskyttarna [2014-04-28]
Aftonbladet: Drönare i kampen mot tjuvjakt på noshörning [2013-05-14]
Conflict trends: Otherside of Drones [Issue 3 2013]
Join the Project
We have built a strong implementation team for our pilot project, but also welcome the opportunity to expand the group of partners. There are two opportunities to join our efforts:
1. Organizations with technical or training skills can join the pilot project by adding those competencies to the implementation process. Your organization will receive free use of our software platform and assistance in interfacing your products into the broader technology and training system. We will assist in teaching the national team how to train the rangers and support your products.
2. Non-technical organizations can also join the project as financiers or supporters. Both of these categories will enjoy visibility on the project’s website, through media coverage and other promotional materials, such as logotypes on the hardware in the park. Joining the efforts will be an opportunity to network with local Kenyan public and private sector stakeholders, as well as with the Swedish Embassy and other government offices in Kenya. The project team will also organize visits to the Ngulia rhino sanctuary so that project partners can follow the progress on the ground.
For more information on how to get involved, please contact:
Johan Bergenas at the Stimson Center at jbergenas(at)stimson.org, or
Fredrik Gustafsson at Linköping University at fredrik.gustafsson(at)liu.se.
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