On the fateful night of 2 March 2012, three rhinos at Kariega Game Reserve in South Africa's Eastern Cape province were tracked by poachers and then hit with tranquillisers. Their horns were then hacked off with a short sword, and they were left to lie in agony in pools of blood. The only survivor was a feisty and fearless white rhino cow, who was later nicknamed Thandi. In Xhosa, one of the official languages of South Africa, the name means courage (or to be loved).
Thandi continued to amaze everyone with her incredible fighting strength and miraculous recovery. She became the first rhino to ever survive a poaching attack. Her story spread around the world and has inspired many people to get involved in rhino conservation. She now has three calves of her own – Thembi (Hope), Colin (named after the late founder of the Kariega Game Reserve), and Mthetho (Justice), and continues to live in the wild at Kariega Game Reserve.
The Kariega Game Reserve holds an expansive 10 000 hectares of pristine African wilderness. After the brutal attack in 2012, the reserve put an anti-poaching unit in place specifically to protect the white and black rhino population on the property. Further, the anti-poaching unit has begun to install Hikvision outdoor bullet cameras in crucial areas along the fence lines. For example, one of the cameras stands along the river that borders the reserve to monitor the movement of people on the water. The intrusion detection capability gives the rangers a warning – and an upper hand – when people try to gain unauthorised access.
Bushes, animals, bugs, and bad to no lighting at all, are major obstacles when it comes to conventional cameras installed in an environment like Kariega. The cameras donated by Hikvision feature motorised varifocal lenses with smart focus, and all the footage is streamed to the operations centre where the rangers can assess any situation and take immediate action. Using a DeepinMind NVR powered by AI, the rangers can focus on human detection and avoid wasting valuable time on false alerts.
“Hikvision came on board and provided some of these high-end network cameras to Kariega Game Reserve. And these network cameras are really helpful in protecting our wildlife and for our anti-poaching unit. That means we have boots on the ground, eyes on the ground, on a daily, hourly basis, 24/7. For our people on the ground, knowing that there are cameras on crucial points of the reserve will help them to focus more on their actual job – looking after the rhinos,” said Daniel Haesslich, anti-poaching manager of the Reserve.
Johnny Ge, project director of Hikvision South Africa, said, “As we all know, rhinos are an integral part of the South African ecosystem and they are in crisis because of ruthless poaching. The Hikvision team is proud that we can do something to help stop the slaughtering of the rhinos with video technology. Looking ahead, we will continue to work closely with local partners to protect the rhinos. And hopefully in the near future, they will no longer be critically endangered.”
With the use of video technology along the outside perimeters of the reserve, the safety zone for the rhinos has been increased. More than that, it also provides safer working conditions for the rangers on the ground who are the last layer of protection for the rhinos and stand directly in the line of fire between the rhino and the poacher.
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