Detecting phones is one of the most wanted features by conservation parties and rangers because poachers heavily rely on their mobile phone for navigation and communication. It is one of their most important tools. Phones are used for communication with other poachers to come help extract the ivory. In general, a poaching operation consists of a team that needs to communicate together.
Our custom designed devices are hidden across national parks. Poachers carrying a phone will be detected, triangulated and in effect: rangers will be alerted.But it doesn’t stop here! We are adding new features to the system that enables detection of many more things like sound, photo’s, satellite imagery, etc. We understand this is a cat-and-mouse game and we intend to provide the major advantage to rangers and law enforcement.
" The poaching of rhinos in this 300,000 hectare area has been widespread – both in the peripheral area and the central area. So we are working on building up manpower, but that takes time. All these poachers made use of cellphones. Two poachers were recently arrested and two were killed after they crashed their car while they were trying to escape after cellphone-coordinated pickup on the boundary of the conservancy.
If we had GSM detectors we would definitely have detected them. "
— National Park Ranger
Deliberately anonymous, for security reasons
In April 2018 we deployed the first prototypes. Besides testing the concept technically another major objective was gathering more local knowledge of poaching and consulting with all involved parties. The months following we gathered and analysed the data and together with our partner TWTG designed the final system.