Gunshot tech helps Kruger Park reduce rhino poaching

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Gunshot technology ShotSpotter is being used to deter rhino poaching in Kruger National Park, helping authorities reduce unsanctioned killings by 60% inside the park’s Intensified Protection Zone (IPZ).

South Africa, which holds nearly 80% of the world’s rhinos, has been the country hit hardest by poaching criminals, with more than 1 000 rhinos killed each year between 2013 and 2017. Kruger is a critical poaching area.

According to interest group Save the Rhino, the number of rhino killings has been decreasing since last year.

ShotSpotter has been deployed in the park since November 2018, and has since then been incrementally deployed across several areas of the IPZ.

The technology provides acoustic gunshot detection and precision-policing solutions to help law enforcement officials and security personnel prevent and reduce gun violence.

During the 12 months prior to ShotSpotter’s deployment, officials at Kruger National Park reported that 12 rhinos were killed in these areas. However, since the deployment of ShotSpotter 18 months ago, only five have been poached in these areas.

The technology has enabled rangers to detect the location of gunfire incidents in under 60 seconds.

“The resultant speed and accuracy of the response provides the rangers with greater opportunity to catch poachers literally red-handed and recover rifles, ammunition and other poaching equipment, and aids in the gathering of evidence, which is critical for a successful prosecution,” say park officials.

They say in the 18-month period, several poachers have been arrested, in part due to the deployment of the technology, including the arrest of one of Kruger’s most wanted and high-profile poachers.

Ken Maggs, head ranger of the Kruger National Park, explains: “ShotSpotter has allowed us to take back the night. We now have an interception rate well above 50% within the coverage area, which means the poachers are literally flipping a coin when they come in.

“ShotSpotter is a powerful real-time intelligence tool that combined with the skills and dedication of our rangers, the K9 unit and the Air-wing is being successfully leveraged in the prevention and reduction of rhino poaching.”

“The Kruger National Park is at the epicentre of the fight to save the rhino from extinction. ShotSpotter is proving to be a powerful deterrent against poaching, which in turn is resulting in fewer rhinos being killed inside the coverage area,” says Ralph A Clark, president and CEO of ShotSpotter.

“We look forward to continuing to be of service to the Kruger as we help them fight the scourge of rhino poaching.”

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