poaching in South Africa - the statistics
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Poaching is a debilitating epidemic that has tragically ravished Southern Africa. According to government statistics, 1,028 rhinos were illegally killed in 2017- compared to just 13 rhinos in 2007. South African security expert Colleen Glaeser, who runs multiple tech and securities businesses and is the only female on the board of one of the largest global tech securities companies, told Suzi Boyle, Editor of The Chosen Club, why she knew she had to do something to help…

The protection of wildlife is very close to my heart. South Africa is a beautiful place to live, not only for it’s incredible culture and exquisite landscapes but the majestic natural world we share home with. These creatures form part of our African identity and are intrinsically interwoven in what makes this great nation so unique and special. The bush, as we call it, is a wonderful haven of natural beauty and splendor.

I have been part of the security and surveillance industry for 25 years. As the world has evolved, with technology playing an instrumental role in creating safer environments for its inhabitants, I began to think about how tools such as Deep Learning-based Artificial Intelligence and Neural Networks could help combat one of the biggest terrors and atrocities our country currently faces, poaching.

I was very fortunate to grow up surrounded by natural African terrain, watching animals jot across the horizon as they grazed in their natural habitat. Seeing the destruction that poaching has imposed on my country and the continent is gruesome and total brutality. 

In South Africa, we constantly see big and bold headlines telling us that another rhino or elephant has been poached in one or another game reserve or park. Fear ripples through the communities here for the fate of these animals on a daily basis and we all wonder when a new headline will make the frontpage news, showcasing the extinction. What made this poaching story even more heartsore, was the amount of rangers, dedicated to the cause, who lost their lives in the war against poaching.

I knew that if someone didn’t do something drastic soon, the fate of these magnificent animals would be even more worrisome. Having access to world-class, cutting-edge security technology through my role at AxxonSoft, I felt compelled to use my knowledge and expertise to create a programme which could aid and impact the antipoaching initiative and prevent the catastrophe from growing.

Due to expansive terrain and limited resources, anti-poaching programmes in the past have normally been very reactive and this, I found, had devastating results. Rangers and antipoaching units often get to the crime scene way too late.

In the past, surveillance technology has not been able to tell the difference between humans, animals, insects and even the wind. As a result false alarms were triggered constantly and would rapidly deplete the already limited resources. I got to work with The AxxonSoft team to incorporate Deep Learning and Neural Networks into parks and reserves across Southern Africa. This revolutionary technology, which has been a great success in many other sectors within the security industry, can detect the difference between humans and animals.

As soon as there is a breach, the surveillance centre is immediately notified. Cameras are used to identify where the breach has occurred, and they can pick up exactly where the threat has taken place. This information prevents false alarms and means the guard centre immediately gets all the necessary information, and the antipoaching unit is dispatched.

The main reason why this has proved game-changing in preventing killings is the team is able to get to the scene of the crime quickly. The technology we have been able to use identifies the threat in a real time situation. It’s my strong believe that this will drastically bring down the upsetting statistics.   
I wish I could go into more detail but, due to safety and security reasons, the exact results and specifics unfortunately cannot be published. I can attest to the fact that we have seen great success in curbing poaching so far and I only hope it continues as we take this program forward. 

There is an old quote that says “Until you have loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened,’ we hope this anti-poaching solution can help the war against poaching so that many generations to come can have the joy of growing up in the natural African terrain, with all its’ magicness, the same way me and my generation did.

Images: Photo by Geran de Klerk on Unsplash
Suzi Boyle Suzi Boyle

Suzi is Editor-In-Chief of The Chosen Club and Executive Coach at She Chose Love. She works with high-achieving females to help them focus and achieve their biggest life goals. Suzi lives in LA but works and travels globally.