Wildlife crime is an important driver of biodiversity loss and disrupts the social and economic activities of local communities. During the last decade, poaching of charismatic megafauna, such as elephant and rhino, has increased strongly, driving these species to the brink of extinction.
Early detection of poachers will strengthen the necessary law enforcement of park rangers in their battle against poaching. Internationally, innovative, high tech solutions are sought after to prevent poaching, such as wireless sensor networks where animals function as sensors. Movement of individuals of widely abundant, non-threatened wildlife species, for example, can be remotely monitored ‘real time’ using GPS-sensors. Deviations in movement of these species can be used to indicate the presence of poachers and prevent poaching. However, the discriminative power of the present movement sensor networks is limited. Recent advancements in biosensors led to the development of instruments that can remotely measure animal behaviour and physiology. These biosensors contribute to the sensitivity and specificity of such early warning system. Moreover, miniaturization and low cost production of sensors have increased the possibilities to measure multiple animals in a herd at the same time. Incorporating data about within-herd spatial position, group size and group composition will improve the successful detection of poachers.
Our objective is to develop a wireless network of multiple sensors for sensing alarm responses of ungulate herds to prevent poaching of rhinos and elephants.