discussion / Wildlife Crime  / 5 August 2016

Wildlife conservation & networking technologies

Hi community,

I am very interested in the use of 'networking technologies' for wildlife conservation (my background being in both sector).

Recently, while job/PhD hunting, I saw an article on the the protection of the Rhinos from poaching ( see link attached), using networking technologies.

Does anyone know who is leading this project or if there is any other places currently applying the same sort of wireless sensor network technogies ?

I am very keen to get into this area of conservation/reseach, as I believe in the long term it will be very effective and  be a difference (not only to the endangered species but also to the human communities in those areas). 

Any advice on how to be involved in this field will be welcomed.


Hi Anthony,

Please see attached a list of companies I compiled working with remote sensing technologies in East and Southern Africa for my research, there are several on this list who are also working with network technologies- the dimension data project is also listed. I hope this might be of some help to you :)

In terms of getting involved I would recommend contacting the companies/organisations with a resume and breifly explain what your background it and why you're looking to get involved in this field- are you based in South Africa?

All the best




Hi Anthony, 

A new paper, Integrating Technologies for Scalable Ecology and Conservation, has a whole section discussing wireless sensor networks (p267). Definitely worth a read as it covers of some examples and can point you in the direction of further reading. If you follow the link above, you'll be able to request a PDF of the paper. 

It's a bit older, but you might also check out this article, New opportunities in ecological sensing using wireless sensor networks. Abstract:

Measuring environmental variables at appropriate temporal and spatial scales remains an important challenge in ecological research. New developments in wireless sensors and sensor networks will free ecologists from a wired world and revolutionize our ability to study ecological systems at relevant scales. In addition, sensor networks can analyze and manipulate the data they collect, thereby moving data processing from the end user to the sensor network itself. Such embedded processing will allow sensor networks to perform data analysis procedures, identify outlier data, alter sampling regimes, and ultimately control experimental infrastructure. We illustrate this capability using a wireless sensor network, the Sensor Web, in a study of microclimate variation under shrubs in the Chihuahuan Desert. Using Sensor Web data, we propose simple analytical protocols for assessing data quality “on-the-fly” that can be programmed into sensor networks. The ecological community can influence the evolution of environmental sensor networks by working across disciplines to infuse new ideas into sensor network development.

Hope this helps!






Hi Anthony, 

If you're interested in marine applications of networked sensros, you should check out The Northeast Passive Acoustics Network (NEPAN).  A new paper exploring technologies being used to monitor cetaceans discusses this approach in a section about passive acoustics (p2): 

The Northeast Passive Acoustics Network (NEPAN, Van Parijs et al., 2015), for example, combines mobile and stationary passive acoustic platforms to form a network of sensors that provide long-term year-round information on the presence and spatial distribution of cetaceans, as well as fish. The data can be used to address critical conservation and management needs (e.g. seasonal use of areas by particular species including some real-time capabilities), as well as to reduce threats from anthropogenic activities (e.g. shipping, offshore energy activities). Part of NEPAN is a set of near real-time automated buoys (Spaulding et al., 2009) that report on the presence of North Atlantic right whales, Eubalaena glacialis, in the shipping channel approaching Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A. Other parts of NEPAN are archival, so upon data processing, the hourly, daily, weekly, etc., utilization of particular areas by particular species can be explored. Although it may not seem novel, the ability to know year-round patterns of habitat use by cetaceans is a significant step forward for answering questions of basic ecology as well as helping to address conservation concerns.

Full article: Nowacek, D. P., et al., Studying cetacean behaviour: new technological approaches and conservation applications, Animal Behaviour (2016), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.anbehav.2016.07.019




the above examples are very interesting indeed! Thanks for sharing them.

For your information, my team and i are working on a few very promissing anti-poaching technologies. Having a background in law enforcement, we thought, how can a poacher in action best be detected (as the crime is punishable, while 'being a poacher' is not)? 

This led to 3 types of sensors: detecting electronics (as all wear communication technology with them to organize their logistical needs), sounds, and light. As the meaning of sound is often very contextualised, we are developing a soundscape sensor. That is a sensor which takes into consideration the 'normalised sound' of the environment, and which forwards akward sounds to rangers, so they can determine whether the sound is indeed alarming or not. Light detection needs no explanation I guess. 

Anyway, if you are interested in joining our development efforts to make these types of sensors (and real-time analytics) available for wildlife protection, you are most welcome!