Tracking Poachers with Camera Traps

The alarming rate of poaching in South Africa is now warranting larger and larger budgets being made available to clamp down on the rate at which these poachers are slaughtering SA's rhino population. The increasing plight of the rhino is now also attracting attention to the common poaching of many, many other of our animal species. 

The fight against poaching requires a lot of resources and a lot of trained up people and we've been really happy to be able to do our part towards the fight by supplying camera traps to a lot of the country's game reserves and anti-poaching units. These camera traps (AKA trail cameras) are little self-contained camera units which can be placed in strategic points in the bush to photograph anyone walking past. The newer and more sophisticated trail cameras are also now able to MMS or email the photo immediately to a list of predetermined cell phones or email addresses. This instant alert has proved to be very useful in mobilizing teams in real time when a poacher triggers any of the cameras around a reserve. 

A camera trap is a camouflaged box which can be set to take photos or short videos. During the day the trail camera will take great quality colour photos or videos and at night the camera switches to taking black and white images by using an infra-red flash through black LED lights. This means that the night time flash is invisible to the human eye so that the person being photographed isn't aware at all that they have been caught on camera. 

The best success that we've had so far has been in the Umfolozi Game Reserve where the photos captured clearly identified a guide which was helping the poachers. As soon as this image was received a sting was set up at the guides home and the guide and the poachers were caught. Thankfully they were caught before they had a chance to complete their mission. 

A lot of private farm and small holding owners have also been using these cameras successfully to capture thieves in and around their properties so these camera traps are proving to be a useful security camera too.