A ground-breaking wildlife protection technology lab was opened on Wednesday at the 90,000-hectare Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Nanyuki, central Kenya, the largest Black Rhino sanctuary in East Africa.
The conservancy is located on the foothills of snowcapped Mount Kenya where the world’s last remaining two Northern White Rhinos live. With the death of Sudan, the last remaining northern white male rhino in March 2018, the species was declared near extinct,
The Northern Whites were plenty in East and Central Africa but poaching decimated the species.
The new technology lab will introduce 24-hour animal monitoring at a scale never seen before in Africa that will be able to track all the animals, their body temperatures, migratory patterns and health among others.
It will also be used to protect critically endangered animals including 122 black rhinos, 32 southern white rhinos and two northern white rhinos who are among thousands of elephants, lions, buffaloes, hyenas and zebras among other animals located at the conservancy.
Richard Vigne, the manager of the conservancy, told Anadolu Agency that technology is the way forward in conserving wild animals.
Vigne said that it costs the conservancy $10,000 per rhino annually to secure them from poaching due to demand for rhino horn from the Far East.
He said that the new tech lab will fit rhinos with state-of-the-art chips that will replace the bulky and expensive traditional collars and track their every move in real time. The sensors can fit into a rhino horn.
“The Northern white rhinos were a conservation failure, they are extinct apart from the two which are here, the new tech lab is a game changer in conservation and the fight against poaching, we are now on a stable internet network that will send real-time data from the implants and cameras mounted at wildlife corridors where poachers mainly attack from.”
Simon Gitau, the Kenya Wildlife Service Officer in charge of Nanyuki area, told Anadolu Agency that the new lab will help combat poaching which in recent years has been high in the area.
He added that Kenya’s early lead in internet-based conservation technology will also strengthen its wildlife protection and reaffirm its leading position in safari tourism with 2.5 million visitors a year.