Rhinos get horned cameras to inhibit hunter action

Rhinos get horned cameras to inhibit hunter action

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A British nonprofit organization wants to make South African rhinos more technological. Called Protect, the foundation developed a camera, heart rate monitor, and GPS tracker system that began to be implanted in mammals to try to inhibit the action of poachers.

The device set is called a Real-time Anti-Poaching Intelligence Device (or RAPID), and each of its components is installed in a distinct part of the animal's body. The camera sits in a small hole in the horn while the monitor is installed under the skin and the tracker is around the neck.

The idea is for an alert to be issued by RAPID whenever the rhino's heart races. With the warning, a monitoring team can activate the device in the horn and check if the animal is being attacked by hunters, and immediately send a rescue team to possibly detain those responsible.

But for project director Steve Piper, conservationists are expected to not even have to go so far as to set up a containment team. In an interview with The Verge, the executive said the devices should "act as locks, so hunters realize that any animal with such a collar is off the target list." "There is no reason to attack the animal, there is no reason to kill it because you will never be able to get away with the most valuable parts of it," Piper explained to the publication.

The problem of rhino hunting is not exactly new, and measures such as cutting the horns - very valuable for being considered "good for health" - were already taken by other countries in the 1990s. proved very effective - in Zimbabwe, for example, animals without the pointy part were killed in the same way, as a "remnant" of horn was still left.

Other more recent initiatives to protect these mammals involved drones and microchips installed in their bodies, but they were not enough to prevent the death toll from rising. An entire species of Western black rhinos was totally extinct in 2013, and at least 1 215 of these animals were exterminated last year in South Africa - a record high of 1,004 the previous year.

RAPID is therefore expected to help at least minimize the problem. Major research has now been completed, and prototypes will begin to be placed on wild rhinos in the coming months - the organization also plans to create versions for elephants and tigers, by the way. A functional command center should finally start operating in early 2016.

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