IBM and MTN Help Protect Endangered African Rhinos with Internet of Things Technology

22 September 2017

Computing

Johannesburg, South Africa and Armonk, NY - 19 Sep 2017: IBM (NYSE: IBM), MTN, a leading African telecommunications provider, Wageningen University (WU) in the Netherlands and Prodapt, today announced they are harnessing IBM Internet of Things (IoT) technology as part of the MTN Connected Wildlife Solution. The solution will help predict threats and combat the poaching of endangered rhinos at Welgevonden Game Reserve in South Africa, with the intent to expand the solution to other reserves in future.

Today South Africa is home to more than 70 percent of the world's remaining rhino population. Conservationists are battling to protect the dwindling number of these iconic animals that are being killed for their highly-prized horns*. Over the past decade, more than 7,000 rhinos were killed across the African continent and in 2016, 1,054 were reported killed in South Africa alone.

“One of our primary objectives is to protect wildlife, especially endangered species. We were looking for a solution that would help us better understand possible threats and weed out those coming from poachers so we can react ahead of time and prevent harm to animals,” said Bradley Schroder, Chief Executive Officer of Welgevonden Game Reserve. “This project will be a profound breakthrough in the creation of connected wildlife solutions, a wildlife management concept that aims to harness IoT technology to better manage and protect wildlife and other assets.”

This new predictive capability stems from research performed by Wageningen University. Ranked the best university in the Netherlands for 12 straight years, the university features an animal sciences group focused on research and education related to the health and welfare of animals and people. According to research conducted on Welgevonden Game Reserve, prey-animals in the wild react in different ways, depending on the type of threat they encounter and the perceived danger from predators such as lion and leopard or the presence of people in the vicinity.

This research has been combined with MTN’s Connected Wildlife Solution which leverages IBM’s IoT technology and the university’s predictive analytics, to create an innovative solution that gives game reserves a powerful new tool in the fight to save endangered species. Protecting the rhinos begins with fitting collars containing custom sensors onto prey-animals including zebra, wildebeest, eland and impala, which will transmit data about their behavior to the IoT platform.

The data collected from the LoRa sensors is communicated via the LoRa WAN Network Server (LRSC - Long Range Signal & Control) and backhauled over the MTN 3G/4G network.

Through the platform, the solution collects animal location information, movement, direction and average speed of travel, along with other data. The data is used by Wageningen University to create approximately 20 rule-based patterns based on the animals’ response to threats. As a result, animals such as zebra will act as sentinels with their response patterns becoming an early warning system to protect the rhinos.

Read the full article on ibm here.