Technology is creating a safe haven for wildlife

100 years ago, as many as 100,000 wild tigers roamed across Asia and today about 3,900 tigers are left in the wild, occupying a mere 4% of their former territor

India has a spectrum of animals native to the country. It is home to pythons, deer, Asian elephant, one horned rhinoceros, wolves, foxes, bears and others. But there lies a mammoth problem here, with decades of human encroachment; there is a threat to India’s wildlife. All animals in the wild are threatened by the illegal wildlife trade.

100 years ago, as many as 100,000 wild tigers roamed across Asia and today about 3,900 tigers are left in the wild, occupying a mere 4% of their former territory. India has the highest population of tigers in the wild which accounts for 2,226 of the total 3,900 tigers worldwide but they are still on the verge of extinction. The population decline is driven by a range of threats which include poaching for illegal wildlife trade, overhunting of prey species by local people, and human tiger conflict.

In the last five years, the enforcement authorities made 540 tiger seizures which indicate that the country’s national animal is most vulnerable to poaching for international trade. Similarly, the domestic demand for ivory is one of the reasons for elephant deaths in India. Poaching for meat and other products like tail hair also poses threat to the population. Ivory is also smuggled out to various countries like Japan and China. The main problem is the unregulated movement of people due to the remote location of forest reserves and poachers almost have a free run.

Tech to the rescue

Cisco and Dimension Data have developed a new technology called Connected Conservation which allows the forest rangers to be more proactive to find and stop poachers before they kill. In order to test and refine the system, two companies installed it in a private game reserve adjacent to Kruger National Park in South Africa. It was noted that the number of rhinos that were being poached have been reduced by 96%. The company is now looking to install the system in national parks across the country and is in talk with a few state governments for this.

The company is using modern technology to transform conservation securely. With the use of digital infrastructure, the company helps to digitalize and analyze the entry and exit information of the people visiting the park. It uses hybrid cloud to ensure that there is real time data backup and workspaces for tomorrow which makes sure the rangers are connected within the park through multiple devices. This allows the collection of information from the game rangers, security personnel and control center teams.

The new system uses a range of technologies-Wi-Fi, closed circuit televisions, sensors, thermal cameras and biometrics to create a security network across the reserve. A high value, point to point router network was built and tested as a proof of concept in order to create a security net which covers the entire perimeter of the reserve. Further, a 72 km fence line has been electrified with sensors and thermal cameras at high intensive zones which are all linked to a high security management control room which is manned throughout the time.

All individuals entering the gate have to show their passport and ID as well as vehicle registration plates. These are then cross checked with the South African national database which helps security personnel to identify whether the individual has a criminal record or whether the vehicle has been stolen. Security rangers have software installed on their iPads and iPhones which allows them to communicate securely with one another and with the team in the reserve control center. The team is now looking at replicating this success in India and is in talks with government to protect the endangered species including Asiatic lions and tigers. Connected Conservation creates space for the animals to roam freely by creating a safe haven for the country’s wildlife.

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