Satellite technology used to catch wildlife poachers in Africa

Non-profit environmental and health organisation RESOLVE is using Inmarsat’s satellite technology to help protect endangered species from poachers in Africa.

Working in collaboration the company, RESOLVE has designed a specific solution called TrailGuard AI, which uses an “advanced artificial intelligence-powered camera” to detect humans in nature reserves. The images are then transmitted to park rangers in real time, enabling them to identify would-be poachers and intervene.

The TrailGuard AI product leverages Inmarsat’s L-band, global, mobile satellite communications network. According to a statement, the solution – which is designed to overcome the lack of reliable terrestrial connectivity in remote areas – works with 97 per cent accuracy.

Speaking of how TrailGuard is being used, Dr Eric Dinerstein, director of ‘wildtech’ and the biodiversity and wildlife solutions programme 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.”

Alastair Bovim, vice president managed services at Inmarsat Enterprise, said: “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.”

TrailGuard was first deployed at the Singita-Grumeti reserve in Tanzania in 2018. One hundred high-risk parks have subsequently also been identified, with RESOLVE aiming to deploy the devices at ten poacher ‘chokepoints’ across each of the sites.

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