U.S. military radar detection equipment to be used in the fight against rhino poaching

Posted by Jaclyn Stephenson on 22 February 2012

Yesterday Durbanville Hills Wine Estate hosted a demonstration of US military radar detection equipment that may be vital in the fight against rhino poaching in South Africa.

In the past there have been many other suggestions on how to stop poachers from killing rhinos; including darting and removing the horn, dyeing the horn, poisoning the horn and erecting fences. However, the majority involve putting the animal at risk in its natural territory. While these issues are being addressed a partnership between Diceros (an anti-poaching and advanced management system company), Wildlife ACT (a wildlife monitoring organisation) and Stone Holdings (a security design company) has seen progressive research on a solution that does not put the animal at risk in any way. The demonstration showed how radar detection equipment can, and will, function in safely protecting not just rhinos, but all endangered animals in South Africa.

Fences are not a true barrier to stop poachers from getting to the animals in reserves, they are merely a hurdle to get over and is a step in the wrong direction for anti-poaching. ‘Fences also restrict animals’ territories’, says Dr. Simon Morgan from Wildlife ACT, ‘so we want to build a virtual fence.’ The project is ultimately looking to stop poachers from even entering the areas that our animals are located in, as opposed to addressing the consequences after the fences have been breached and the animal is found dead. These are the proposed benefits of using this radar detection equipment:


Security benefits

  • The project takes a proactive approach towards protecting animals and acts as an early warning system against people entering a restricted area
  • Multiple radars, which allow the operators to mark out danger entry and exit points
  • Night systems that operate and survey on a 24/7 basis and do not rely on visual contact
  • Vast geographical areas can be monitored from a single point of installation; a radius of 12 km can be covered, giving it a total span of  24 km
  • The radar can detect people, cars and helicopters

Animal management benefits

  • No animal tagging is required as the primary aim is to secure all boundaries and restrict unauthorised entry from the outside
  • Real-time location data is used to track and monitor the animal and the location of the animal is not dependent on the tag
  • A historic data trail is available in the form of a ‘breadcrumb’ trail to show previous movement and territories

Human resource management

  • All human activity within the detection range, including rangers, security staff and visitors, can be monitored
  • Movement of friendly vehicles will be monitored – so that there is a differentiation between friend and foe (i.e. who is a poacher and who is not)
  • Monitor and control all hourly paid staff members
  • No need for security patrols as perimeter is always monitored. The system will only react to security infringements on necessity and not patrol base, which limits labour and workforce
  • Accurate and effective reactions to any security breaches


The equipment was not initially created for the purpose of protecting rhinos, which means there are a number of possible scenarios in which the radar technology can be beneficial. It could be used to protect South Africa’s coastline, forests and mountainous regions. But still, the benefits to reserve managers in protecting their animals are immense. ‘We are convinced that this technology is an essential tool and that the deployment of the various options will prevent any further unnatural decline in the numbers of these magnificent yet so very vulnerable creatures,’ says Dr. Simon Morgan from Wildlife ACT.


For more information contact the following:

Dr. Simon Morgan (Wildlife ACT)
Tel 082-093-8345, email [email protected]

Leslie Steenkamp (Stone Holdings)
Tel 082-771-1987, email [email protected]


Email [email protected], www.diceros.co.za

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tcat - Conservation
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