South Africa's Kruger Park gets gunshot detection technology to fight rhino poaching

Poaching incidents often go undetected in the Kruger Park – a sprawling stretch of bushveld in the north east of South Africa that covers almost 20,000 square kilometres (12,427 square miles) – with carcasses only discovered days or weeks after a poacher has struck. The new tech employs acoustic sensors coupled with software to quickly pinpoint the location of gunshots, allowing park rangers to respond rapidly.

"ShotSpotter changes the game by giving our rangers the exact location of the shot within seconds," Glenn Phillips, Kruger National Park’s managing executive, told IOL. "The resulting speed and accuracy of the response not only increases our chances of making contact and effecting an arrest but over time we hope will send a powerful message to poachers to stay away."

So how does it work? Strategically positioned acoustic sensors pick up the sound of gunfire and almost instantly triangulate the source of the sound based on how long it took to reach each sensor. The info is sent to an HQ where it's analysed by experts to confirm that it is a gunshot before being passed on to the relevant responders (in this case anti-poaching teams). The whole process takes less than 60 seconds.

ShotSpotter typically employ their detection systems in urban environments, so the vast expanse of the African bush posed a few challenges. Acoustic sensors were adapted to account for the terrain and its lack of electricity, a tweak that the company has had to employ in other applications such as freeway deployments with limited electricity supply.

The technology has already led to multiple apprehensions and, in future, the company hopes to expand coverage of the system and integrate it with airborne thermal surveillance technology to enable rangers to more easily track and intercept poachers.

"I’ve seen the devastation to the rhino population first-hand in South Africa and it’s meaningful that ShotSpotter can make a difference to help these amazing animals survive for future generations,” says Ralph Clark, president and chief executive of ShotSpotter.

Source: Earth Touch News Net