(WILDLIFE/POACHING/RHINOS) Poaching, or the illegal hunting and killing of wild animals, threatens a number of endangered species such as tigers, elephants, and rhinos. Due to this horrific practice, some of these species are on the brink of extinction and may be gone within our lifetime.

This rhino camera can capture poaching events as they occur. Photo credit: Humane Society International
This rhino camera can capture poaching events as they occur. Photo credit: Humane Society International

Since 2007, rhino poaching in South Africa has increased by over 9,000 percent, and in 2014, 1,215 rhinos were killed by poachers. Although numerous anti-poaching services are in effect, Africa’s vast and massive landscapes make poaching quite difficult to detect. Many times, anti-poaching forces arrive too late, allowing poachers to escape without consequences.

Wildlife is in desperate need of more effective anti-poaching services. British inventor Paul O’Donoghue believes that he has found a solution to such a problem.

O’Donoghue created Protect RAPID (Real-time Anti Poaching Intelligence Device), a monitoring system that combines GPS satellite, a heart rate monitor, and a video camera to broadcast real-time information to anti-poaching centers. Therefore, anti-poaching teams can detect and terminate poaching crimes moments after they occur.

Dr. O'Donoghue stands with a sedated rhino in South Africa. Photo credit: Humane Society International
Dr. O’Donoghue stands with a sedated rhino in South Africa. Photo credit: Humane Society International

O’Donoghue is quite familiar with the horrors of poaching. For over 15 years, he has worked closely with black rhino populations in the hopes of bringing an end to poaching practices. According to O’Donoghue, one rhino is killed every six hours in Africa.

“There’s far too much money at stake to believe that legislation alone can make the difference, we had to find a way to protect these animals effectively in the field; the killing has to be stopped,”  O’Donoghue said.

As soon as a poaching incident occurs, the Protect RAPID device triggers an alarm linked to a heart rate monitor, while the GPS can track the rhino’s exact location. Once anti-poaching services are notified, O’Donoghue claims that:

“Rangers can be on the scene via helicopter or truck within minutes, leaving poachers no time to harvest the valuable parts of an animal or make good an escape.” 

The goal is to identify poaching events as they happen, as opposed to after poachers have already fled the scene. Therefore, because this new technology will lead to poachers’ arrests, there is less incentive for poachers to commit such a horrific crime.

During poaching, some rhinos are still alive when their horns and possibly their faces are brutally removed. Photo credit: Daily Mail
During poaching, some rhinos are still alive when their horns and possibly their faces are brutally removed. Photo credit: Daily Mail

Leading rhino veterinarians and conservationists in Africa, along with Humane Society International, have already shown their support for the RAPID device. With such immense support, the rhino monitoring system could be in effect within months.

Developers are also working on versions of the device designed for tigers and elephants in order to protect them from hunting, as well.

It’s time to end this barbaric practice and save these wild creatures from extinction. With the advanced technology of RAPID, along with the support of animal activists far and wide, we can help put an end to poaching once and for all.

TAKE ACTION: Click here to join Humane Society International in supporting RAPID.

— Rebecca Hartt, exclusive to Global Animal

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