A new wide area surveillance system has been taken into use in the Kruger National Park.
Known as the Postcode Meerkat, in recognition of funding for it coming from the People’s Postcode Lottery in the United Kingdom and which was secured by the Peace Parks Foundation (PPF), it is the first time technology of this type has been applied in a counter poaching role in a bushveld environment. This makes the system unique, said Tendani Tsedu of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), a partner in the system.
SANParks, the national conservation agency under whose aegis management of the Kruger National Park falls, is the third partner in the project.
Postcode Meerkat comprises a suite of radar and electro-optic sensors that detect, classify, monitor and track humans moving in the park over a wide area. Additionally, the system has been designed to be mobile so it can be rapidly deployed to prevent poaching crisis zones from developing.
Smart thinking in its development allows it to differentiate between humans and animals, while its application will guarantee early warning and rapid response capabilities. This will augment ranger reaction times, allow for better preparation and support proactive apprehension of suspected poachers, which could save lives both human and animal.
Postcode Meerkat also has future potential to be used in a conservation role, for example to better understand animal behaviour.
The system will significantly increase Kruger’s ability to protect rhino and other vulnerable species. It will enhance capacity to combat wildlife crime, along with other systems already in place, such as improved ranger skills and support, increased aerial and ground mobility, gate access control and zones with increased wildlife protection, Tsedu said.
Apart from developing and manufacturing the system, the CSIR will also provide ongoing technical and administrative support to Kruger.