March 20, 2017
The Postcode Meerkat wide-area surveillance system was officially put into operation in the Kruger National Park at the end of January following completion of the first production model. The system was developed through a partnership between SANParks, Peace Parks Foundation (PPF) and South Africa’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).
The new surveillance technology and specialised long-range optics installed in the Meerkat system can detect poachers operating under cover of darkness.
During the first two weeks of operation, the system was successfully used to thwart the efforts of five of nine detected poaching groups, with five poachers apprehended and arrested. On February 14, Postcode Meerkat detected three separate groups moving into the rhino heartland from different directions. All three groups were disrupted, and two rifles as well as two sets of poaching equipment retrieved. “Although no arrests were made, it can be said with confidence that if the Meerkat was not operational on this night, anything between four to eight (or more) rhino may have been killed,” SANParks, PPF and CSIR said in a statement.
The system can differentiate between humans and animals and its application guarantees early-warning and rapid-response capabilities. The current system, although operational, is still in a developmental phase, with ongoing efforts to optimise and expand functionality.
Watch the video below for more information on the Meerkat system.