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This is MeerKAT

This is MeerKAT

Meet MeerKAT: the wide area surveillance system which is having a massive impact on the protection of South Africa’s rhino population within the Kruger National Park. Named the Postcode MeerKAT to recognise the funders of this innovation, the People’s Postcode Lottery of the United Kingdom and the Netherland’s Postcode Lottery, this system has reduced poaching in the area which it monitors by 80%. We take a closer look at the MeerKAT Project:

The surveillance system spent a year ‘under construction’ as a dedicated team of engineers researched, sourced and planned a solution to combat poaching activity in an undisclosed area of the Kruger National Park. The MeerKAT wide area surveillance system was developed by three organisations in partnership, namely: SANParks, Peace Parks Foundation and CSIR, who faced a number of challenges. These included the terrain it would need to monitor, the movement of wildlife versus humans, as well as piecing the project together within the shortest time-period possible, as rhino numbers decreased daily. The result of their efforts brought to life the Postcode MeerKAT, fit with Reutech RSR 904 ground surveillance radar, information analysis software and night-detection, long-range cameras.

Postcode MeerKAT was deployed to a high risk area of the Park and the team waited with baited breath for its impact. The team did not have to wait long to track the MeerKAT’s success as it identified just short of 90 poachers in a span of two months while deployed; saving the lives of a predicted 19 rhinos.

Not a year had passed before the Postcode MeerKAT was deployed to a high risk area of the Park and the team waited with baited breath for its impact. The team did not have to wait long to track the MeerKAT’s success as it identified just short of 90 poachers in a span of two months while deployed; saving the lives of a predicted 19 rhinos. Postcode MeerKAT was positioned on a hill overlooking this high-risk area where there is a strong presence of rhino, as well as poachers. The system makes use of the surveillance radar to scan the terrain from its vantage point and picks up on movement; the analysis software then assists in identifying whether the movement is an animal or a human on foot, and whether that human is a possible threat. The long-range cameras are used to assist the team at night-time, when poachers are move prevalent. The surveillance team can then make a call on whether to track the poachers before intervening or to deploy helicopter or road vehicle assistance to the area immediately. Take a look at the MeerKAT in action here.

Postcode MeerKAT Launch

Since its first deployment in January of 2017, and in a time span of a year, Postcode MeerKAT has decreased poaching activity in the areas it monitors by 80% with a success rate in arrests of 90%. On the 16th of November 2018, the Postcode MeerKAT Team were invited to attend the prestigious Kudu Awards, hosted by SANParks, and were awarded the Innovative Project of the Year. The annual awards ceremony honour the individuals and projects which contribute to operational successes and effectiveness throughout SANPark’s conservation efforts. This is an incredible project which is rightfully being acknowledged for its contributions to the plight for South Africa’s rhino population – we look forward to seeing the project span the Kruger and grow from strength to strength.

2018 MeerKAT Kudu Awards
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