IBM Harnesses the Internet of Things to Save Rhinos

By: Joe Hewitson| - Leave a comment


Rhinos are a formidable presence in the South African landscape. However, populations are declining as poaching puts these animals in danger — increasing from 13 killed for their horns in 2007 to 1,215 in 2014, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

In light of rising attacks, the intrepid beasts are finding allies in unusual places. Researchers at Wageningen University in the Netherlands are harnessing IBM’s Internet of Things platform in combination with MTN’s cellular network to defend this animal, Quartz reports.

Their strategy? To outfit prey animals such as zebras, wildebeests and impalas with collars to track herd movement. That’s right: The team will use tracking data on the surrounding wildlife instead of the rhinos themselves, and the reason is quite clever.

Analyzing Animal Patterns With IoT

Animals like zebras have a much quicker response time than white and black rhinos. They also have distinct movement patterns depending on approaching threats.

Is that a lion in the tall grass? If so, zebras will instinctively flee as a unified herd. A poacher on the other hand inspires a sporadic evacuation.

IBM’s Internet of Things platform will take advantage of these unique characteristics and apply a bevy of predictive analytics to better predict illegal threats on the horizon. Geared with location, movement, direction, speed data and a response time of 400 milliseconds or less, researchers aim to create a reliable early warning system.

Each collar is equipped with LoRa Alliance technology that incorporates low-range low-power signals that are perfectly safe, if not altogether fashionable. This technology will transmit data back to IBM’s platform over 4G and 5G networks, Quartz reports. With 135 animals already outfitted, the program aims to expand its data set in the near future and improve the accuracy of its machine learning capabilities.

While the success of this program has yet to be determined, it serves as a great example of how versatile IoT can be when combined with a little creativity. From saving rhinos to powering enterprise innovation, IoT is an exciting technology to keep an eye on.

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About The Author

Joe Hewitson

News Writer

With a degree in Applied Computing Technology and over a decade of service in the IT and Software Development industries, Joe Hewitson has acquired a keen ability to write about emerging technologies and the impact they have on businesses in many different industries. Accompanying his love for all things tech is a passion for writing informed and engaging pieces in a unique and easy to understand voice. Living in the beautiful arms of the Rocky Mountains, Joe is an avid outdoorsman and enjoys running, biking, and fishing.