Rhinos equipped with GPS tracking

Oct. 21, 2010 at 8:55 PM
share with facebook
share with twitter

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, Oct. 21 (UPI) -- Five rhinos in South Africa have been "wired" with Global Position System devices to help protect them from poachers, wildlife officials say.

Each of the animals in the country's North West province had a GPS chip fitted into a small hole drilled in the inert or dead part of its horn, the BBC reported Thursday.

As well as GPS tracking, the devices are equipped with alarm systems to alert game wardens at the Mafikeng Game Reserve of unusual movement or if a rhino is outside of the park.

"It's basically a satellite system which connects with the cellphone system and we can monitor the animals on whatever time delay we want," Rusty Hustler, head of security for North West Parks Board, said.

"There are a number of alarms that can be programmed: one for excessive movement, so if the rhino starts running, and another that goes off if the rhino sleeps for longer than six hours, which is abnormal," Hustler said.

An alarm also sounds if the chip goes outside of the area of the game reserve, and a reaction team in the park would be able to track and quickly reach the animal.

More than 200 rhinos had been slaughtered in South Africa since the start of the year.

There is a high demand for rhino horn, a prized ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine, the BBC said.

Related UPI Stories
Trending Stories