The Meerkat Project Team based in the Kruger National Park (KNP) has bagged the South African National Parks (SANParks) Kudu innovation award for their work on counter-poaching.According to a statement by SANParks, the innovation mastery of the Meerkat lies in the ability to apply technology to distinguish between humans and animals in an African bush environment.This technology can also survey large distances where traditional surveillance equipment falls short because of the extreme temperatures, thick vegetation and terrain challenges."The SAWC K9 Unit's capacity was boosted this year by the highly innovative addition of 20 new, free-running pack dogs from Texas in the USA," said SANParks. Read: SANParks welcomes 33-year sentence for rhino poacher"Since the arrival of the two new packs, the unit has been involved in 73 deployments in the Greater Kruger National Park where 43 poachers have been arrested and 18 rifles confiscated."The Meerkat team consists of SANParks, Peace Parks Foundation, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and the Southern African Wildlife College's (SAWC) K9 Unit. "Innovation is one of the ways that we will and are able to better protect our national parks be it through anti-poaching efforts or finding solutions to climate change," said SANParks CEO Fundisile Mketeni."If we don't innovate we run the risk of losing our natural heritage. Tonight we honour several innovators who are leading the way in the conservation of our natural world."Read More: Dramatic decline in number of rhino poaching – departmentThe Kudu awards were held in Midrand on Friday evening, and they seek to recognise SANParks employees as well as multiple stakeholders and disciplines who play a pivotal role in strengthening conservation in South Africa.