Drones fight rhino poachers in South Africa

Shaya E-security announced in a press release on Friday, 12 December 2014 that it has achieved tremendous success in reducing poaching at the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park in KwaZulu-Natal using its SA-built drones.

The Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park in KwaZulu-Natal, which said it has the highest concentration of rhinos in the world, reported a 92 percent reduction in poaching incidents during a year-long project involving Shaya’s drones.

During the initial one month-long pilot project not a single rhino was lost inside Hluhluwe-Imfolozi.

“By contrast the country’s worst affected wildlife areas are losing up to 50 rhino each month,” Shaya said.

The drones were built in a factory in Kyalami, Johannesburg, and clocked over 3,600 flying hours across in four separate deployments.

They flew at an altitude of around 500 metres and reached speeds of up to 180 km/h, providing constant live video as well as thermal and infra-red surveillance.

“We’ve proved the value of drone technology in the fight against rhino poaching,” said Ben van Dyk, chief øperations officer of Shaya E-security. “The world urgently needs a solution to the poaching crisis, and we believe we’ve found it,” he added.

Shaya said its drone project featured a range of remote-controlled drone designs, from its five-metre wingspan ‘Assegai’ to the much smaller ‘Hexcopter’.

Its design team included aeronautical engineers, auto-pilot programmers, industrial designers, computer scientists, and commercial pilots, Shaya said.

Van Dyk said the key to the drones’ success was on-board sensors and high definition cameras capable of providing real-time monitoring across the vast wilderness area.

The live images could be controlled or viewed remotely over the Internet on portable devices such as laptops and cellphones.

The project concluded earlier in 2014, but Shaya CEO Ian Melamed said it could provide a model for future deployments countrywide.

“The problem with fighting rhino poaching in particular is that there is so much intimidation and danger to the people on the ground fighting the poachers,” said Melamed. “As a result aerial security surveillance is a hugely viable alternative.”

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Drones fight rhino poachers in South Africa