Lonely Planet Writer

New technology is protecting animals from poachers in Africa

Poachers in Africa are being targeted by sophisticated technology that constantly monitors the daily movements of elephants, rhinos, and other protected animals. The Domain Awareness System (DAS) is helping protect animals tracking vehicles, aircraft, and animals as they move around the natural environment.

Secuity ranger with binoculars- photo by Frank Af Petersen

One conservation agency in Kenya that has been using the system said it helped make sense of the often chaotic intelligence they would get from dozens of teams out in the wild. The Lewa Wildlife Conservancy have had enormous success, not losing a single rhino to poachers over the past three years. The new system alerts them to threats instantaneously and lets them react immediately to tackle poachers and save animals. The Domain Awareness System was developed by Vulcan, a philanthropic company focused on technology, specifically to fight poaching.

Elephants on Lewa. Image by Darryl and Shana Balfour

Lewa have been using the system since late last November on the 93,000 acre Borana Conservancy and other conservancies in the Northern Rangelands Trust. Their rangers radio in any sightings of elephants, rhino, and other large carnivores as they see them. They said: “now, with radio operations, wildlife reports, poaching threats and human-intelligence information all channelled into one central platform, our security teams have the real-time information needed to act on intelligence, plan deployments, and respond to wildlife threats in a timely and coordinated fashion.”

Ranger radios in rhino sighting- photo by Dan Watts.

Edward Ndiritu, their head of anti-poaching, told Lonely Planet: “it has been a game-changer for us. Combining our existing security expertise with the technical capabilities provided by [the system] has greatly improved our operations.” The conservation area, which is part of a Unesco World Heritage site, is a popular location for safari-loving travellers. It’s home to more than 160 black and white rhinos (one sixth of all the rhinos in Kenya), a buffalo herd that has trebled in three years, a large number of elephants, and the world’s single biggest population of Grevy’s zebra.