NRI and IBM team up to use sensors and predictive algorithms to create an early warning system to keep rhinos from being poached.

South Africa is home to about 20,000 rhinos, more than 70 percent of the world’s total population, but from 2007 to 2014 the country experienced an exponential rise in rhino poaching.

By using IBM’s IoT platform, cloud, and predictive analytics, the Netherlands Research Institute has been able to track the movement patterns of smaller neighboring animals as they respond to the presence of human intruders anywhere in the 350-sqkm reserve. Tracking the smaller animals that comingle with the rhinos – zebra, wildebeest, and antelope – has been key because they are easier to tag than the large rhinos. They are fitted with collars containing sensors that transmit data to IBM’s IoT platform through the long-range signal and control platform and a 3G network.

By 2016, evidence existed that this system had reduced the amount of poaching for the second year in a row.

The sensors monitor and collect information related to the animals’ location, movement, direction, and average speed of travel and this data is used to develop analytic models and understand patterns that may indicate that they are about to be in danger. IBM works with NRI to create and test algorithms for behavioral analysis.

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