GPS Tracking Devices Used to Stop Endangered Rhinocerous Poaching

GPS global positioning system rhino rhinocerousGPS tracking devices have been placed on several Rhinos in South Africa in an effort to stop the endangered animals from being killed by poachers.  According to BBC News, the The North West Park Board in the Mafikeng Game Reserve began placing the GPS tracking devices on the Rhinos in April of 2010. To date,  several Rhinos are being monitored by the GPS tracking system.  The Board plans to tag many more animals with GPS tracking devices in the upcoming months.

The GPS tracking devices are fitted into the rhino’s horn by drilling a small hole in the inert or dead part of the horn. As well as GPS tracking, the devices are equipped with an alarm system to notify game wardens of unusual Rhino movement or location. According to Rusty Hustler, head of security for North West Parks Board,”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.” He added that in the future, the devices could even help to track rhino horns that were taken by poachers to help combat the illegal trade.

One rhino is killed every 30 hours, the worst case scenario in the last two decades, according to the World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF). Over 200 Rhinos have been slaughtered in South Africa in 2010.  The animals are brutally being killed by poachers  killed because Rhino horns are sold on the black market for thousands of dollars.  Rhino horns are considered valuable because they are considered a prized ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine. In some parts of Asia, the local population believes that it can cure cancer.

90% of the world’s Rhino population lives in South Africa.  The remaining Rhino population is primarily in Vietnam and has been wiped out due to poaching.  According to Wikipedia, the two African species of Rhinos are the White Rhinocerous and the Black Rhinocerous. In 2007, the wild Rhino population was an estimated 17,480  animals. If the poaching continues, the animals could end up extinct over the next decade.

For more information, please go to:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/earth/hi/earth_news/newsid_9116000/9116106.stm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Rhinoceros