Eutelsat, Sigfox tackle rhino poaching

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The project aims to fit 3 000 rhinos with sensors in their horns.
The project aims to fit 3 000 rhinos with sensors in their horns.

Eutelsat Communications and Sigfox Foundation are partnering on what they call the "Now Rhinos Speak" project for the protection of the endangered rhinoceros population in Africa, making the announcement at AfricaCom 2017 in Cape Town.

Using Sigfox's very low-speed network, the Sigfox Foundation has designed and implemented a remote tracking solution for rhinos that uses GPS sensors fitted in the horn of each animal to send positioning data to a secure online platform via Eutelsat satellite resources.

"Three times a day, wardens, vets and specialists in game parks can access readouts of the movements of the animals. This precise data allows them to improve protection against poaching and understanding of an endangered species," Eutelsat said.

The project aims to fit 3 000 rhinos over a three-year period to track their movements.

Prior to officialising the partnership, Eutelsat and Sigfox Foundation have collaborated since November 2016 on an initial operation in Southern Africa connecting approximately 10 animals.

Three base stations of Sigfox's low-speed Internet of things (IOT) network have been connected to the secure platform using Eutelsat's smartLNB satellite service that extends terrestrial IOT networks anywhere. The collaboration showed an improvement in the identification of areas of surveillance and refined allocation of resources for protection on the ground.

"The partnership agreed between Eutelsat and the Sigfox Foundation for the protection of rhinos is an invaluable opportunity to gain a better understanding of an endangered species and be part of the effort to protect them. Thanks to the support of Eutelsat, we can give rhinos a voice every day, wherever they are," said Marion Moreau, president of the Sigfox Foundation.

"Through this partnership, the use of satellite capacity really comes into its own, enabling us to connect remote points in an environment that will never be served by terrestrial networks," added Nicolas Baravalle, director of the Sub-Saharan Africa region.

This first step will be followed by a monitoring solution for game parks, using sensors that can give a voice to the territory and detect unauthorised intrusions. A team of 10 developers and engineers are working closely with a rhinoceros conservation committee in Africa to this end.

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