In 2014, poachers killed more than 1,200 rhinos in South Africa, which is about one death every eight hours. Numerous methods of thwarting these criminals have been advanced in the past several years—from painting horns pink to relocating rhinos by helicopter to creating synthetic horns—but still the slaughter continues. If this rate of carnage goes on, rhinos could go extinct within the next decade.
But just last month, in July 2015, it was announced that a team of British conservationists came up with yet another new idea to help defeat rhino poachers. Under a system called RAPID, which stands for Real-Time Anti-Poaching Intelligence Device, rhinos are being equipped with small cameras embedded in their horns.
The United Kingdom-based nonprofit Protect, which developed the RAPID system, say that the cameras can be installed in the horns of rhinos without causing pain or harm to the animals. The pachyderms are also given GPS tags and heart-rate monitors. Then, when a RAPID-equipped rhino is chased and attacked by poachers, its swiftly changing heart rate will alert operators at a control center, who will then turn on the camera. If poachers are observed in the live video feed, authorities can be sent to the animal’s aid in a matter of minutes using the transmitted GPS coordinates. This new ability to so quickly respond, it is hoped, will leave poachers with little or no time to harvest horns or escape from the scene.
Protect plans to widely deploy the RAPID system over the next couple of years in places such as South Africa. Knowledge of this new, high-tech system alone might be enough to deter poachers, forcing them to think about the higher probability of getting caught.
Below is some sample footage from a rhino cam. The camera is positioned in the rhino’s top horn, so it isn’t an exact depiction of what the animal actually sees. But if such a camera manages to catch a poacher in action and save the life of even one rhino, that’s a beautiful perspective, indeed.
Here’s to finding your true places and natural habitats,