This week I would like to tackle an issue that has long been overdue and is close to my heart. With the recent killing of Cecil the iconic lion in Africa, I would like to address the issue of global poaching. For those of you who might have missed out on all the media coverage on the killing of Cecil, here is a short recap (and I will refrain from the gruesome details):
Cecil was a 13 year-old iconic lion who lived in the Hwange National Park in Matabeland North, Zimbabwe and was killed by a big game hunter who is said to have paid around $50,000 for the chance to kill him. Apparently, Cecil's GPS collar was removed, and by using bait, Cecil was lured out of the park's boundaries, (about half a kilometer (3/4 of a mile) out of the park), before being shot dead hours later. The details and development of the events in this story are so grotesque that even the "Safari Club International," which promotes big-game hunting worldwide, has suspended the killer's license. The US Fish and Wildlife Service will investigate whether any US laws were violated.
But all this will be too late for Cecil and for many other majestic wildlife animals.
The Irreparable Damage of Poaching
Poaching has traditionally been defined as the illegal hunting, killing, or capturing of wild animals. Until the 20th century, mostly impoverished peasants poached for subsistence purposes. Since the 1980s, the term "poaching" has also referred to the illegal harvesting or killing of wild species for the purpose of enriching industries such as: jewelry, ornaments, wild artifacts and disease (believed to be cured by a single animal part – which has not been proved so far).
At current poaching rates, elephants, rhinos and other iconic African wildlife may be gone within our lifetime.
As stated above, Cecil's GPS collar was removed, leaving this magnificent, strong and powerful animal unprotected and vulnerable to the cruelty of human beings. By the time the park rangers realized that Cecil was out of their boundaries, it was too late. The question remains, can technology prevent, or provide enough leeway for park rangers to react in time and prevent future acts of such cruelty?
Wireless Technology Offers Invaluable Tools to Conservationists
There are solutions for wireless communications that deliver HD video, data and VoIP for vast areas such as savannas, forests, safaris and other wildlife conservations, without the need for any existing communications infrastructure. Building fixed poles with mounted cameras will not only "contaminate" the landscape, but will provide a limited view only and are easily taken down by poachers, which again leaves the conservationists helpless. Bound-free wireless communications that do not depend on any existing communications infrastructure and therefore will not intervene and "contaminate" the natural beauty of the landscape and wildlife savannas make them ideal for such an environment and mission.
One of the challenges faced by such conservationists is the vast distance that needs to be covered in ordered to obtain an encompassing view of the area. Other challenges include electricity supply to any mounted cameras (for smaller areas) and this, provided the cameras and equipment are not stolen or taken down by poachers. This means all communications must be made on-the-move, using dispatch personnel units that are light in equipment, easily deployed; deliver real-time HD video, data and voice with units working together as a unified entity.
Overcoming such vast distances requires an ecosystem approach, where multiple dispatch units complete each other from land and air. Ground dispatch units to collaborate with supportive missioned short to mid-range UAV's or small planes to share and distribute all information in broadcast, multicast and unicast modes. Each component of these dispatch units (vehicles, personnel, air-crafts) serves as relays to all other units in the area, thus covering greater distances.
These mission-critical tasks require mission-critical-communications. There are several solutions and technologies out there. Most will depend on eitherWiFi, WiFi MESH, Cellular and 4G Mobile MESH private network. Each platform delivers its unique added value and features. However, not all can overcome the above mentioned challenges. Cellular is obviously irrelevant for areas that are not covered by a cellular infrastructure, and the same for WIFI. As for MESH, not all MESH solutions are designed to operate on the move, and therefore it's important to understand this and assure that your MESH topology is designed to do precisely that.
This specific article, to me, not only showcases technology and what technological options are out there, but demonstrates how we can utilize great innovative solutions for a greater cause.
For more information on wildlife preservation, visit www.awf.org
This article is written by Yossi Segal. Yossi Segal is the Co-Founder & VP of Research and Development for Mobilicom
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