Specific crime problems need specific solutions – that’s where technology comes in, even in the remotest areas. Throughout Asia and Africa, an unprecedented spike in poaching has pushed critical animal species to endangered levels. The poaching epidemic has also hurt local communities, as their economies are damaged and regional security is often disrupted.
World Wildlife Fund (WWF) created the “Wildlife Crime Technology Project” (WCTP) to provide an umbrella of technology to protect wildlife from illegal poaching and trafficking. By providing an innovative, model approach that can be easily adapted around the world, WWF is enhancing ongoing efforts to monitor and safeguard vulnerable species. Fluidmesh is supporting the WCTP through an in-kind donation of wireless technology. “By developing a web of surveillance technology across critical landscapes we hope to significantly disrupt the illegal wildlife trade and stay one step ahead of the poachers,” says Evan Walker, Senior Corporate Engagement Officer at WWF.
The illegal killing of African elephants has led to a 20% decline in numbers over the past decade alone. The fact that international regulations prohibit the trade or possession of anything other than heirloom ivory doesn’t stop a vigorous trafficking problem. Rhinos are suffering a similar fate; in the eight-year period from 2007 to 2015, the number of rhinos poached soared from 13 per year to 1,175 per year. Wild tigers have also been hit hard, with their numbers falling from 100,000 to 3,900 in just a century. The human cost is also considerable, with more than a hundred wildlife rangers dying while on duty during 2015, according to the International Ranger Federation. 42% of wildlife rangers were killed by poachers, with 90% of those deaths occurring in Africa and Asia. The cost – both animal and human – is much higher than the $7-10 billion the illegal trade is estimated to be.
Fluidmesh’s cutting-edge wireless technology is helping provide a solution to this epidemic. To prevent poaching, the park rangers on the ground need intel about the poacher’s movements. Cameras positioned along park perimeters, capture potential poachers – day or night.
Night used to be the most vulnerable time to poaching; now, specialized software can analyze heat signature and distinguish human from animal, allowing rangers to deploy a swift response when poaching is suspected, directing manpower directly to the problem. Solar power also allows the Mesh Networks to operate along long borders and over wide areas, acting alongside human and foot patrols.
As the initial measures prove successful, they’re being deployed more widely. Sharing information is mission-critical when it comes to catching poachers in the act, and the speed of response is crucial. Fluidmesh Networks’ wireless technology is a critical component of the WCTP’s mission in safeguarding species from poaching. Cosimo Malesci, VP Sales and Marketing at Fluidmesh Networks, adds: “Fluidmesh has always been sensitive to environmental preservation. We are really proud to help wildlife, taking part in this extremely important project together with WWF.”