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Rhino horn cameras promise to catch poachers in the act

Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
July 21, 2015
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Anti-poaching teams can only do so much to protect rhinos. Their immediate presence can deter rogue hunters, but a lot of the slaughter happens before these teams even know that something's wrong. That's where non-profit group Protect's RAPID (Real-Time Anti-Poaching Intelligence Device) should come in handy. The system uses a blend of heart rate sensors, GPS tags and cameras drilled into one of the rhinos' horns (don't worry, it's painless) to warn conservationists when a rhino is under threat. If a rhino's heart starts racing or suddenly goes still, observers get an alert that lets them turn on the camera to see if something's wrong. Ideally, this will prevent poachers from even firing a shot -- they know that they'll likely be caught within minutes if they chase or kill a tagged animal.

Only prototypes are active right now, but there should be a wider launch by the end of 2016. Protect has grand plans for its technology, as well. It's hoping to use kinetic and solar power to keep the heart monitor running, and it hopes that versions of RAPID could protect elephants, lions, tigers and whales. Provided all goes well, endangered species wouldn't need near-constant oversight (or radical steps like removing horns) to survive.

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