Since 2008 more than 5,900 African rhinos have lost their lives to poachers and 1,175 were killed in South Africa alone in 2015. One way of combating poachers in the future could be the robot-rhino, a robot that is powered by a hydrogen fuel cell that can track the herd of rhinos from the inside.
ILLEGAL WILDLIFE TRADE SAID TO BE WORTH $19 BILLION WORLDWIDE
There are many environmental issues in the world brought on by global phenomena such as climate change that it is very easy to forget about other threats, such as man-made ones, that threaten animals.
One of these problems is the illegal trade in wildlife, which is said to be worth around $19 billion worldwide. One animal that is most at risk is the rhino, but the issue of protecting them is that you cannot watch over the herds of rhino around the clock. This may change in the future thanks to a mechanical engineer as they have come up with a new idea that sounds strange, robotic rhinos. The robots would be able to stay with the herds of rhino and track them and then send out an alert to patrols if there are poachers close-by.
RHINO HORN WORTH AROUND $100,000 PER KILOGRAM
One of the biggest reasons why the illegal rhino trade is so big is that the animals are killed for their horns. In 2013 the street price for rhino horn in Asia was $60,000 to $100,000 for each kilogram. Ground down rhino horn is said to be used for a wide range of conditions.
To be able to fight this, a robotic rhino was devised with the name of Rakamera. This is a robot rhino that would be able to mimic real life rhinos so much so that the herd would accept it into their fold and it could monitor them and watch over them, giving out an alert if poachers were near.
The designers of the robotic rhino said that they would be powered by hydrogen fuel cells and they would have internal hydraulics along with servomotors to enable them to move. The robots would be fitted with cameras and infrared sensors that allowed them to track the herd’s movements along with any human activity.
OTHER HIGH-TECH SOLUTIONS IN PLACE OR BEING CONSIDERED
While devising and manufacturing robotic rhinos might sound a solution that is far out to combat poaching there are other high tech solutions being considered. One company came up with the idea of 3D printed synthetic horns; however, this idea did not go down too well with conservation groups.
Anti-poaching groups do take the more conventional route and use infrared cameras, spatial monitoring tools, UAVs and other technology devices to try to catch the poachers. These generally track human beings who are getting close to the regions that are protected.
The solution to poaching is going to come by way of destroying the demand for rhino horn. There are myths of curative properties of the rhino horn and these are going to have to be dispelled and people taught that wildlife conservation is a valuable lesson. Until this happens it does look like technology is going to stand guard over the animals.