Thermal imaging cameras, speakers deployed in bid to protect rhino

18th August 2017

By: David Oliveira

Creamer Media Staff Writer


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Swedish security camera manufacturer Axis Communications is showing its commitment to combating the scourge of rhino poaching in South Africa.

Axis Communications country manager Roy Alves explains that the company has been involved in several conservation efforts, but highlights a 30 ha rhino sanctuary, in the North West province, as a particularly important project for the company.

The company has sponsored an early-detection system comprising seven thermal imaging cameras and three 120 dB outdoor horn speakers to assist in protecting several rhinos at the sanctuary.

The cameras and speakers supplied by Axis Communications are all digital and Internet Protocol-based, allowing members of the sanctuaries team to remotely manage any threats to the rhinos. “One thing that is unique to the Axis cameras is the ability to download applications (apps) to the individual cameras very much like the smartphone concept,” Alves notes.

He adds that a unique app can be loaded onto the camera to fulfil a specific task based on the requirement. For example, a motion direction app allows animals and people to walk in one direction but, if they walked in the opposite direction, an alert would be triggered.

He explains that the cameras have been placed on the perimeter of the sanctuary, facing outwards covering the perimeter but, most importantly, the area outside the electric fences to detect poachers before they enter the protected area. The thermal cameras can capture images detecting any possible threat for over 250 m along a narrow field of view.

The use of horn speakers in strategic places also facilitates the playing of pre-recorded audio files on a triggered event. “If an individual is loitering around, you can have an audio playback that states the individual is in a prohibited area and must leave the area,” Alves explains.

“The use of clever analytics enabling the cameras to identify the heat signature of humans and ignore those of animals has proved hugely successful,” says Alves. The analytics have been designed to limit the number of false alarms.

Part of the system design is to have floodlights come on if the camera detects any unwanted perpetrators, with the audio alert simultaneously triggered, reducing the human factor reliance


“It is a prewarning system that has been designed to address the problem of poaching more proactively. The intention is to prevent the crime by notifying poachers that they are being filmed,” Alves says.

The system also notifies the antipoaching reaction team, which can mobilise more quickly, therefore improving the chances of catching poachers and saving rhinos.

One of the most important features of the system was to automate the system as much as possible, thereby limiting human intervention and the possibility of poachers receiving inside information.

The system was installed in January. To date, there have been no incidents of or attempts at poaching.

Edited by Martin Zhuwakinyu
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor



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