Jul 21 2015   6:17PM GMT

Technology grabs the Rhino by its horns to save it from extinction

Clare McDonald Profile: Clare McDonald

South Africa

A group of UK conservationists have begun using GPS tags, heart rate monitors and cameras on Rhinos to deter poachers.

The project is run by the not-for-profit group Protect which developed the Real-time Anti-Poaching Intelligence Device (RAPID) to try and protect the endangered species from being killed for their horns.

The device, which is being tested in South Africa, monitors the heart rate of the Rhino in real-time.

If the heart rate elevates or drops it will trigger an alarm allowing a conservationist to use a horn-implanted camera to see what is happening to the animal.

A GPS collar allows the creature to be tracked to allow rescue to be sent to the animal if the footage shows it is under attack.

The collar also acts as a warning to poachers, who will be aware that they can be identified should they harm a Rhino wearing one.

Dr Paul O’Donoghue, chief scientific advisor for Protect explains that the combination of these capabilities means that whenever a Rhino is in the process of being poached, a helicopter can be deployed to prevent a poacher from taking the valuable horn or getting away.

“You can’t outrun a helicopter, the Protect RAPID renders poaching a pointless exercise.” He says.

Currently a Rhino is killed in Africa every six hours, and the hope is that these devices will prevent the animal from extinction. 

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