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Earth Science

Using Raspberry Pi and iOS App To Catch Rhino Poachers 52

Posted by timothy
from the is-there-anything-rhinos-can't-do? dept.
v3rgEz writes "Cambridge Consultants has rigged together about a hundred motion-triggered cameras around Kenyan watering holes to help catch and dissuade elephant poachers. 'The challenge was to create a remote monitoring system that was robust enough to withstand extreme weather conditions and animal attacks and could be easily hidden in any surroundings – all within the available budget,' according to one of the projects leads. And to help make sure all those cameras are being monitored, the team has released an iOS app that lets users review, tag, and flag images, tracking what kinds of animals pass by and keeping an eye open for any human predators on the prowl."
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Using Raspberry Pi and iOS App To Catch Rhino Poachers

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  • by JaredOfEuropa (526365) on Saturday September 07, 2013 @06:37AM (#44782675) Journal
    Nice idea, but won't this help poachers as well? At the least the public app will help them to locate
    - elephants
    - park rangers
    - the cameras themselves
    • Every Western scheme in Africa is ultimately designed to prop up local corruption, so keep us doing better.

      If you haven't noticed this, you've been asleep since the early British empire. It used to be called "white man's burden", but the colour's not really the thing.

    • by slick7 (1703596)

      Nice idea, but won't this help poachers as well? At the least the public app will help them to locate - elephants - park rangers - the cameras themselves

      Just think, observational skills and target practice before the poach. Wouldn't a catch and release program be better? Catch the poacher, take their picture and release them. Then tell the poacher they have 48 hours to leave the country befor their picture goes on a wanted dead poster with a $30,000 reward. The reward must be more lucrative than the poached animal. Getting a sense of how rare a poacher becomes is the only way to bring about a change of attitudes.

      • Yes, because non-human animal life is more valuable, or equally as valuable as human life. If the idea is to scare the person that has been poaching, or is attempting to engage in animal poaching, and not actually put a reward on the carcase of said human, I could potentially let such an idea be considered(given that poachers have killed other humans in the search for the next animal). In actuality, the idea, no matter the intention, creates more problems without "solving"(read: We will never "solve" all ri

        • You do realize that game wardens in Africa have been killing poachers on the spot for years now? There are over 6 billion people in the world. There aren't that many rhinos or elephants. Yes, human life is worth less.

        • by slick7 (1703596)
          When the last dolphin, lion, elephant, lobster, whale is dead, what's their value? When an alien hangs your testicles on their ornament tree, what's the outrage? When man is hunted to extinction, will anybeing care? Does it matter?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    99 raspberry pi(e)s in the outback, 99 raspberry pi(eeeeeeeeee)s...
    (poachers|rhinos|monkeys) take one down and smash it around...
    98 raspberry pi(e)s in the outback...

    Come on guys; sing it with me!

  • 'The Naked Prey' old film but is on netflix. Pretty good and some good documentary sections. (Elephants getting shot is a bit graphic!)
  • by SpzToid (869795) on Saturday September 07, 2013 @07:42AM (#44782795)

    Reading TFA I understand they are using a mesh of Raspberry Pis that can sense motion and subsequently sending (at-least) a still image to a server somewhere. The same unit is also monitoring sound so the network can triangle gunshots using microphones (for an immediate police response). And obviously these units must be durable and low maintence.

    What I'd like to know is how are they drawing power while remaning hidden? It seems solar *has* to be part of the equation, hasn't it? I can't see how they power those rasberry Pis + transmitters.

    • by SpzToid (869795)

      replying to my own post. I see the answer now:

      Among other technologies, the project makes use of Raspberry Pi micro-computers, long-life batteries, and LED flash lighting.

  • ulterior motives (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gravis Zero (934156) on Saturday September 07, 2013 @07:44AM (#44782799)

    i looked up what the penalty for poaching is an found out some interesting info.

    - wildlife tourism is the backbone of the Kenyan economy
    - before last June (2013), the punishment was a fine of around $480 and maximum jail time of two years, which were very rarely imposed.
    - at the start of June, Kenyan parliament changed the fine for poaching to a $120,000 fine and a potential 15-year jail sentence.

    Kenya only has 8,500 elephants and 1,025 rhinos. if you think the punishment is too harsh then you should consider that poaching is destroying an essential part of their economy. honestly, i think the punishment should even higher because it's equivalent to economic treason. i say treason because when the animals are (nearly) wiped out, tourists will go to other countries and give money to them instead.

    if you have obstinate views on ethics and morality, you should stop reading here and if you are a mod, remember there is no "-1 I disagree!"

    i'm no tree hugger but there is also the consideration of what is the value of a human criminal (extremely common) versus the value of one of these animals (very rare in comparison). if you REALLY want to get the message across (desperate times call for desperate measures?) then having public executions for poachers seem like it would be a sizable deterrent for teens who want to make a quick buck (ivory is >$1000/kilo). it's an issue of ethics and morality: for the good of the state versus the good of the individual.

    feel free to mod "+1 OMG WTF?!"

    • dammit, the link got killed.
      info about the new laws: http://www.takepart.com/article/2013/05/31/rhino-poaching-in-kenya [takepart.com]

    • by solarissmoke (2470320) on Saturday September 07, 2013 @08:41AM (#44782915)

      If you REALLY want to get the message across (desperate times call for desperate measures?) then having public executions for poachers seem like it would be a sizable deterrent for teens who want to make a quick buck (ivory is >$1000/kilo)

      If only it were that simple. The poaching industry is not built around a bunch of hoodlums with guns making a "quick buck". It goes all the way up to the highest levels of government, with lots of people taking their cut along the way. There is complicity by people at all the stages of the process of getting the horns/tusks from the animal to the people who consume it. And if you think only poor people are involved in poaching, you couldn't be further from the truth [wildlifedirect.org].

      There are insiders in the very organisations that are supposed to be protecting the animals who leak information to the poachers so they know when and where to strike without being caught. There are crooked officials at customs checkpoints who let the illicit goods through the ports. There are politicians and lawmakers who are handsomely rewarded for not enforcing existing punishments and not instituting harsher ones. Punishing the guy who pulls the trigger, however harshly, isn't going to stop all of this. He will be replaced by someone else equally desperate for money. And where poverty is rife, it's always worth the risk.

      There are some more realistic ways to address to the problem:

      • - Try and educate the ignorant people in China and other (mostly far-Eastern) countries who think horns and tusks have magical powers (I am not optimistic about this, but hey, we have to try).
      • - Research ways to artificially create horn/tusk material in the lab (similar to what was done with pearls), and flood the market with it so that the value of the product plummets.
      • - Work on making the living animals more valuable to the local community. Engage them in conservation efforts and make sure they receive a meaningful portion of the income from tourism activity. There are efforts being made to do this but the government could do a lot more.

      Unfortunately all of these things take time, which is fast running out.

      • by cdrudge (68377)

        - Research ways to artificially create horn/tusk material in the lab (similar to what was done with pearls), and flood the market with it so that the value of the product plummets.

        That's done wonders for the jewelery industry. Lab grown precious stones and pearls have made the real ones dirt cheap and so affordable that everyone owns large collections of them. Or not.

      • - Try and educate the ignorant people in China and other (mostly far-Eastern) countries who think horns and tusks have magical powers (I am not optimistic about this, but hey, we have to try).

        If people are so stupid to believe that ivory will cure them of whatever, why go to all the effort to sell them actual ivory? It doesn't sound right, nor add up. I'd hazard a guess that we're simply being told that the Ivory is going to the uneducated, but rather it's really going to the highly educated mega-rich.

      • by trawg (308495)

        - Research ways to artificially create horn/tusk material in the lab (similar to what was done with pearls), and flood the market with it so that the value of the product plummets.

        Is there any reason to artificially create it? Surely people that are buying this stuff are not putting a lot of skeptical analysis into its actual providence. I would actually be surprised if the majority of it that was sold was fake anyway and only the ultra-rich are buying legit stuff.

      • by Petfish (1254220)
        I really thought that the advent of viagra - i.e. something that actually worked - would take the steam out of the market for rhino horn. It didn't. I don't know how you educate for that.
    • by nukenerd (172703)
      Agree the punishments are well deserved (but it remains to be seen how effectivley administered).

      However, not just for the sake of Kenya's economy, or even for its sake of their economy at all. These poachers are on the way to wiping out the largest remaining land animal species, just for the sake of making trinkets and humouring idiots who believe in quack medicine.
  • From tfa I read, "As a result, the expectation is that park rangers can pinpoint the location of poachers and intervene immediately, the firm said." As I understand it, Kenyan park rangers intervene by shooting the people they think are poachers on sight. Interesting that UK doesn't extradite if the person to stand trial might get the death penalty, but exporting this stuff that facilitates the death penalty without trial is ok. I suppose it's the same as exporting firearms - or rather, firearm optics.

    A
  • That's Raspberry Pi with a 'p'. You'd think the /. editors could at least catch simple spelling errors in article titles.
  • why not android if just for cheaper phones / more unlocked ones. Do they want tourists to use this? that good till they get the big data roaming bill.

    • by BitZtream (692029)

      First, outside of slashdot, no one gives a fuck about unlocking, just accept it, you do not represent the general public.

      Second, they weren't going for cheap, contrary to what the might have you believe. There are ready made solutions that cost less than you could do it for parts alone with a rasp pi.

      Publicity with geek buzz words seems far more like the goal here.

      • by puto (533470)
        Actually, As a tech manager at one of the largest Telcos in the US, and someone who travels frequently around the world, an "unlocked phone" has traditionally been not for geeks but for traveling businessmen and tourists. I would say I get at least 3-4 escalations a desk a day for non techies wanting their iphones unlocked ASAP, thinking they do not have to go through the heinous Apple process. And yes you can get good android phones "for cheap" I have a Motorola Defy that I use for South America. Paid
  • The cost of a raspberry pi, ANY sort of wireless connection and ANY camera alone are going to exceed the cost of ready made wildlife camera.

    He'll the local sporting goods store sells wifi enabled animal cams for well under $100. You'd want something other than wifi for ranges needed on the savanna, but I can't imagine asking a manufacture for a deal in exchange for publicity wouldn't have resulted in a far better solution for less money and certainly far less total cost.

    Stop trying to shoehorn a raspberry

    • by Cruciform (42896)

      So you didn't read the article. Congratulations.
      The cameras they've built do more than just take a picture. But you'd know that if you actually read the article you're commenting on.

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