Working to make the world a better place
A portion of your purchase of any PROTXS product goes to help combat this very real problem. Dr. Michael Halliday and Myself firmly believe that all who come in contact with PROTXS will be blessed. We believe giving back to the community is a very important part of that philosophy.
In 2015 1,215 rhinos were killed in South Africa for their horns, which end up in Asia as supposed cures for a variety of ailments. An estimated 30,000 African elephants were slaughtered last year for their tusks to be turned into trinkets. The world loses three rhinos a day and an elephant every 15 minutes. Simply stated, this is an unsustainable situation.
Our team at PROTXS has partnered with several organizations and has created a multifaceted approach to combat poaching in South Africa. We devise analytical models of how animals, poachers and rangers simultaneously move through space and time by combining high resolution satellite imagery with loads of big data – everything from moon phases, to weather, to previous poaching locations, to info from rhinos’ satellite ankle trackers – and then applying our own algorithms. We can predict where the key players are likely to be, so we can get smart about where to deploy rangers to best protect animals and thwart poachers.
The real game changer is our use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones. We’ve found that drones, combined with other more established technology tools, can greatly reduce poaching – but only in those areas where rangers on the ground are at the ready to use our data.
Scope of the problem
In the past 10 years, the poaching of elephants and rhinos has increased exponentially, primarily because it’s a very lucrative criminal business. Rhino horns can fetch more than US$500,000 or over $50,000 per kilogram – this is more than the cost of any illegal narcotic – and a pair of elephant tusks can reach US$125,000. Most of these illegal activities are run by Asian criminal syndicates and there are well-founded beliefs that some of these proceeds are being funneled to political extremists in Africa.
Being smart about deploying technology
Technology is a marvelous tool but it must be the right solution for a particular problem. Engineering solutions that might work with the US military looking for people planting IEDs in Afghanistan will not necessarily work in the African bush, at night, searching for poachers. The most challenging question about how UAVs are used in Africa is when and where to fly them.
Africa is too big to be simply launching small drones into the night sky with the hope of spotting rhinos or poachers by chance. This is where the analytical models come into play. Based on our models, we know, with near 90% certainty, where rhinos are likely to be on a particular night between 6:30 and 8:00, prime time for killings. At the same time, by mathematically recreating the environment when previous poachings have occurred, we have a very good idea of when and where poachers are likely to strike.
We don’t have to find poachers, we just need to know where the rhinos are likely to be.
For example, a large proportion of poachings occur on the days around a full moon; it makes sense since that’s when poachers can easily see their prey. In one area where we have months of experience, we discovered that nearly every poaching occurred with 160 meters of a road. It’s simple. The poachers are driving the perimeter of the park in the late afternoon spotting animals near the park fence; they return just after sundown, kill the animal and drive away. We pile on the data, and the algorithms do the rest.
Thank you so much for collaborating with us on this valuable cause.
If you care to donate to the PROTXS Foundation please click on the link below.