ShotSpotter helps reduce rhino poaching in Kruger National Park

Issue 5 2020 Editor's Choice

ShotSpotter, a global leader in gunshot detection systems, has announced that the ranger service of the Kruger National Park has successfully driven an almost 60% reduction in the number of rhino killed within ShotSpotter’s coverage area inside the iconic park’s Intensified Protection Zone (IPZ).

Since November 2018, ShotSpotter has been incrementally deployed across several areas of the IPZ. These areas were specifically chosen due to the high density of rhino living within the coverage areas and the strategic importance of these animals to the overall rhino gene pool. During the 12 months prior to ShotSpotter’s deployment, officials at the Kruger National Park reported that 12 rhino were killed in these areas. However, since the deployment of ShotSpotter 18 months ago, only 5 rhino have been poached in these areas.

In that time, several poachers have also been arrested in part due to the deployment of the technology, including the arrest of one of the park’s most wanted and high-profile poachers.

The sheer size of Kruger National Park makes it very difficult for rangers to detect and intercept poachers. However, the always-on force multiplier effect of ShotSpotter 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.

“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,” says Ken Maggs, head ranger of the Kruger National Park. “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.”

ShotSpotter gunshot detection technology was originally created to combat urban gun violence. ShotSpotter Labs, the technology innovation arm of ShotSpotter with a mission of helping protect wildlife and the environment, adapted the system to work in harsh climates and without electricity. Financially, the introduction of ShotSpotter to Kruger National Park was made possible by a generous donation from international donors via the Care For Wild Rhino sanctuary, which is focused on saving orphaned baby rhinos whose mothers have been shot and killed.

“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,” said Ralph A. Clark, president and chief executive officer 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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