Kenya’s anti-poaching drive got a boost after New York-listed technology firm Flir Systems donated thermal imaging devices (night cameras)worth Sh300 million to 10 wildlife sanctuaries.
Flir CEO Jim Cannon said the move was a step towards helping save rhinos by empowering conservation authorities to eliminate poaching.
Flir will offer technical support, through a partnership with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), and train local wildlife rangers on using the devices to detect poachers preying on rhinos.
“Poachers often work under cover of darkness and Flir technology produced dramatic results when introduced. In the Maasai Mara Game Reserve where we introduced the technology 160 poachers were arrested in the last two and half years.
“Flir and WWF are committing to invest and deploy thermal imaging technology to protect native animal populations, ecosystems and local communities affected by illegal poachers in Kenya,” they said in a statement.
WWF head Carter Roberts said the thermal cameras will help safeguard rangers’ lives by helping them detect poachers and plan their response.
“The real heroes in this fight are rangers who patrol some of the most dangerous wilderness areas to stop the better armed poachers who prowl sanctuaries in the dead of night,” he said.
The rollout of the devices was conducted in Maasai Mara, Lake Nakuru National Park and Kafue National Park in Zambia.
The 10 parks benefiting from the Kifaru Rising project meant to curb depletion of Kenya’s 5,400 black rhinos include Lake Nakuru National Park, Solio Game Reserve, Meru National Park, Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Ruma National Park, Nairobi National Park, Ol Jogi Wildlife Conservancy, Maasai Mara National Reserve, and Tsavo East and West parks.
The devices enable rangers to see in total darkness, rain, smoke, and fog. The two called on corporate partners to work with them to facilitate expansion of the project to cover more national parks.
Flir and WWF said partnerships will help increase use of modern gadgets such as aerial drones, conventional gear-boots, tents and rain gear.