Sea Shepherd’s O.R.C.A. Force, in collaboration with South Africa’s anti poaching specialists SPOTS (Strategic Protection of Threatened Species) is using high tech equipment, working day and night to enforce anti-poaching law, guiding the rhino through the full moon cycle.
The full moon period each month is the most dangerous time for the critically endangered rhino. While the golden orb, floating over the African wilderness, creates an amazing panorama for tourists, it also illuminates the bush making the rhino a very easy target for illegal poachers to track down and kill for its immensely valuable horn.
“Over the last few days three rhino have been horribly killed in the surrounding reserves,” says South African team member Dinielle Stöckigt. “We are here to do whatever is needed to protect Africa’s natural treasures in this area.”
During the day O.R.C.A. Force team members assist in armed patrols, checking the perimeter fences for breaches and illegal intruders. At night we use high tech night vision, thermal imaging and UAS (Unmanned Aerial Systems) equipment to search for the criminals plundering South Africa’s natural resources.
Just the other night the team responded to three gunshots heard in close proximity to their encampment. Immediately the combined Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) team of SPOTS and Sea Shepherd launched UAS equipped with thermal imagery to search for movement on the ground.
“This is better than any volunteer experience I can imagine,” says UAS expert Jake Weber, ex Black Hawk and drone pilot for the US Army. “Having a 7.62 FN rifle in one hand, a pair of night goggles in the other, driving at 2 AM on rough tracks that can barely support a vehicle and flying Unmanned Aerial Systems to prevent endangered animals from extinction is not the typical safari experience– this is the real salt-of-the-earth stuff.”
O.R.C.A. Force will continue to assist anti-poaching efforts for the next couple of full moon cycles. With our campaign experience, law enforcement background and technology expertise the team can make a real difference in enhancing anti-poaching efforts.
“Sea Shepherd’s support has been essential during this period. With poachers hunting so nearby, we need all the tools and human assets we can get to protect the rhino,” says SPOTS director Peter Milton.
In our area not a single animal has been poached during this full moon cycle.
|Dead Rhino killed by poachers. Photo: Peter Milton|
|Thermal imagery taken at night from the Unmanned|
Aerial System (UAS)
|O.R.C.A. Force team member, Rosie Kunneke inspects suspicious hole in perimeter fence|
Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on MyNews24 have been independently written by members of News24's community. The views of users published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. News24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.