• Into the wild

    Into the wild

    Malawi’s Liwonde National Park is now a ‘smart’ game reserve.

    The 548 km2 area has been equipped by Dutch firm Smart Parks with gateways and sensors that gather data used to improve the reserve’s management and wildlife protection, according to a Forbes report. Network construction was implemented alongside a team from African Parks, a conservation NGO that manages the park on behalf of the Malawian government.

    Through the internet of things, the technology tracks animal activity as well as that of the rangers, aiding management in monitoring equipment from a greater distance in real time.

    The installation includes an improved wireless IP backhaul setup; real-time monitoring and power management of all active equipment; a new vehicle tracker that has an external GPS and LoRaWAN antenna; Bluetooth programming; a smartphone app; and wearable trackers for the rangers. A ground-mounted solar station will also help improve deployment speed and ensure easier maintenance, at a lower cost than standard GPS technology.

    ‘In addition to tracking for traditional research and conservation purposes, animal security has always been an issue that necessitates remote monitoring of different kinds of wildlife,’ says Smart Parks co-founder, Tim van Dam, adding that ‘if tourists visiting the park find themselves in trouble outside of the cellphone coverage of the park, having real-time information about the location of park visitors will improve overall park safety’.

    The trackers (which cost up to US$200 each) and the solar gateways (up to US$4 000), are able to monitor animal and human activity for up to 100 km.

    20 November 2018
    Image: Gallo/Getty Images