At the current rate of poaching, it is estimated wild rhinos could be extinct by 2025. There are just 20,940 black and white rhinos left in the world and only 5,000 critically endangered black rhino. In South Africa, in 2014 alone, an alarming 1,215 rhinos were poached, a 265% increase from 2010.
Game reserves across the county have specially trained rangers to prevent the act of poaching; however, the South African bush is a difficult terrain to manage, spanning vast territories, with harsh conditions. Due to the remote locations, the Rangers are unable to cover all the land and with limited network infrastructure, coordination between teams can become restricted.
The Rhino Protection Programme, established by the Peace Parks Foundation, has introduced Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) to help anti-poaching. Avanti Communications provides the Foundation’s UAV Service Provider, UAV & Drone Solutions, with high-speed satellite broadband connectivity.
The operation comprises a mobile UAV command unit, from which rangers launch and monitor the UAVs using real-time information.
Peace Parks Foundation currently coordinates two UAV test programmes; one in Kruger National Park, a notorious hub for rhino poaching and the other in protected areas under the management of the Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife.
Avanti’s satellite connectivity has been crucial in allowing the UAV teams to access advanced real-time weather and terrain information, resulting in effective flight management and aviation safety.
With 100% coverage of South Af rica, our satellite is a vital contributor to the effective application of the UAV technology and the active prevention of rhino poaching.
The presence of UAVs alone is a deterrent for poachers and others who engage in wildlife criminal activities. This venture is proving that by using the components of technology and human capacity, aerial monitoring projects have a significant impact on the disruption of illegal activities and reduction in poaching.