Thursday, 01 August 2019 10:43

Inmarsat partners with Resolve on African endangered wildlife project

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Satellite communications provider Inmarsat has joined forces with Washington based non-profit environmental and health organisation, RESOLVE, to develop a “revolutionary”, satellite-enabled solution - TrailGuard AI - to safeguard endangered wildlife across the African continent.

Inmarsat says Intel played a critical role in development, providing engineering expertise and other in-kind support, with the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation and National Geographic Society partnering to fund and deploy TrailGuard AI.

The system uses an advanced artificial intelligence (AI)-powered camera to detect humans in nature reserves, with 97% accuracy, and instantly transmit images to park rangers’ facilities, enabling them to identify would-be poachers and intervene.

The first deployment of the TrailGuard solution, at the Singita-Grumeti reserve in Tanzania in 2018, has resulted in the arrest of around 30 poachers and the seizure of quantities of bushmeat.

Having identified the 100 parks with the highest risk of poaching, by the end of 2020 RESOLVE aims to deploy the TrailGuard AI devices at 10 ‘chokepoints’ - poacher intrusion hotspots - within each of these parks.

Dr. Eric Dinerstein, Director of WildTech and the Biodiversity and Wildlife Solutions Program at RESOLVE, said: “Wildlife poaching in Africa is at epidemic levels, but despite the best efforts of dedicated rangers, the large park boundaries and rough terrain mean that they often only find out about poaching when it’s too late.

“The TrailGuard solution acts as an early warning system, transitioning ranger teams into fully mobile, rapid-response units so that they can respond to would-be poachers and stop them in their tracks.”

Dr Dinerstein said, “for the TrailGuard solution to work effectively we need rock solid connectivity, which, in most remote African wildlife reserves, is only achievable with satellite”.

“Inmarsat’s global, ultra-reliable satellite connectivity was the only solution that could help us overcome the connectivity challenges we faced and connect our smart sensors deployed out in the parks.

“This is expected to detect 80% of poaching gangs operating in each area, which is by far the most effective strategy based on the resources and manpower available.”

Alastair Bovim, Vice President Managed Services Inmarsat Enterprise, commented: “We are delighted to be joining forces with RESOLVE to help support sustainability and bio-diversity in Africa”.

“Our collaboration will ensure that when TrailGuard detects a poacher, rangers are notified immediately of their exact location and can initiate an effective response, no matter how remote the environment.

“Africa’s poaching problem won’t be solved overnight, but if we can prevent even a small proportion of attacks, it will have a hugely positive impact on the continent’s incredible wildlife.”

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired in 2020. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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