Thermal cameras helped stop poaching in Kenya

Thermal cameras helped stop poaching in Kenya

One hundred new FLIR Scion OTM monocular thermal imaging cameras will soon be deployed across Kenya as a tool to end illegal poaching, thanks to a donation to Teledyne FLIR’s World Wildlife Fund (WWF). The company has been working with WWF since 2016 to support the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and regional reserve rangers to stop illegal poaching in Kenya’s wildlife parks. These efforts include the Kifaru Rising Project, a 2019 collaboration between Teledyne FLIR and WWF to harness millions of dollars of FLIR thermal technology, expertise and support to end rhino poaching in 11 parks and game reserves across Kenya. . Seeing the success of the program, which helped stop all rhino poaching in Kenya in 2020, Teledyne FLIR is thrilled to announce the continuation of this partnership through this latest donation.

Donations help offset the loss in tourism caused by COVID-19

One of the main funding methods for KWS and local safeguards is tourism, which unsurprisingly has been hit hard since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. As the KWS is a quasi-governmental organization, which means it is not fully funded by the Kenyan government and relies in part on tourism-generated taxes, WWF support, including donations of technology such as FLIR thermal imaging cameras with continuing education and technical support is critical to efforts to protect endangered wildlife and reduce human-wildlife conflict.

Colby Loucks, vice president of Wildlife Conservation at WWF, says adding thermal technology to park patrols was a revelation. “The way they (the KWS rangers) operated is that they sat quietly at night and just waited to see or wait to hear the poachers,” Loucks explains. “As soon as the rangers hear something that sounds like a human or a poacher, they light their torches and ambush. It was all chaotic. “

Thermal vision has a wide range of applications for KWS rangers, particularly those who patrol at night. The initial donations of FLIR thermal imaging cameras that began six years ago included fixed security cameras, vehicle-mounted thermal imaging cameras and portable thermal imaging cameras. However, Scion OTM devices offer greater clarity, functionality and durability than previous generations of handheld thermal imaging cameras. This improved technology allows rangers patrolling the bush to see farther and more accurately so they can better protect themselves, wildlife and even potential poachers.

When asked how the Scions are helping to advance WWF’s conservation mission, Loucks wasted no time in his answer. “What attracts them is that they are robust, they are mobile. (The FLIR Scions) can be used as a piece of equipment that rangers can carry.

In addition to durability, Eric Becker, WWF’s Lead Conservation Engineer, says Scion’s geotagging feature is critical. “While looking through the viewfinder, the rangers can get an idea of ​​their location. Whatever they are looking at helps them close the circle so they can tell the other rangers what is going on and where is whatever they are looking at.

Teledyne FLIR offers distance learning

However, the KWS is in no rush to put the Scions into use; they have never used this specific handheld technology before and want to make sure rangers are trained before implementing them in the field. WWF has initiated a ‘train the trainers’ approach. A FLIR expert from Teledyne will remotely control the KWS facilities on the other side of the world to train 15 instructors who will then teach the rest of the KWS staff. The two groups plan to release all 100 offspring across the country once training is complete, starting with Lake Nakuru National Park.

Rangers can carry this additional tool on their person, improving the safety of rangers themselves, wildlife and would-be poachers once they are fully deployed to the field by this spring.

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