Technology

Smartphones used to create ‘virtual rangers' to deter poachers

A new scheme in the Kruger National Park is using Samsung phones to live-stream the region, asking the public to look out for signs of poaching.

Smartphone cameras are being used to deter poachers in the Kruger National Park in South Africa, with the public being encouraged to become “virtual rangers” to support the scheme.

A number of Samsung Galaxy S20 FE smartphones placed in the Balule Nature Reserve are live-streaming footage 24 hours a day as part of a pilot to protect endangered animals while offering virtual sightings of them during lockdown.

Samsung is working with African tech firm Africam for the scheme, which is known as Wildlife Watch, and has seen four S21 FE handsets installed within the reserve, as well as a camouflaged jeep fitted with a phone also being used for the duration of the project, which runs until April 8.

It is being used to raise awareness around poaching, which has risen during the pandemic as hunters take advantage of the fall in visiting tourists.

Those watching the live streams on wildlife-watch.com are able to alert rangers if they see an animal in danger or signs of poaching.

The scheme is also supporting the Black Mamba Anti-Poaching Unit, an all-female unit that uses non-violent measures to prevent poaching.

Those viewing the live stream will also see an option to donate to the group if they wish.

Mark Notton, senior director for mobile at Samsung Europe, said: “As our lives have become more virtual, the power that technology has to bring people together to do something good and for the benefit of everyone has never been clearer.

“Wildlife Watch is a truly exciting pilot, and by repurposing one of our latest handsets in this way, we hope increased eyes on these incredible animals will not only support existing surveillance and raise awareness but bring pleasure by letting people see and learn more about wildlife from home.”

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