Live stream of wildlife could help protect animals from poachers

Last updated at 08:48
Rangers looking out for animalsSamsung
The rangers look out for animals on their rounds at dawn and dusk

A group of women who work in South Africa protecting wildlife are using phone and video technology in the fight against poaching.

The Black Mambas Anti-Poaching Unit is based in Balule Nature Reserve, part of the Greater Kruger Area in South Africa.

They patrol the area to protect animals like elephants and rhino who are threatened because of poachers wanting to kill them for their tusks and horns.

The group is live streaming their patrols for two months from 3 March and asking for virtual rangers to tell them if they see anything suspicious.

Rangers on patrol.Samsung
Rangers patrol the edge of the Park to stop poachers getting in

The rangers have been given new phones by tech company Samsung to enable them stream the video for Wildlife Watch and take pictures of the animals and any poachers they see on their night time patrols.

Women for wildlife

Leitah Mkhabela faced criticism when she joined the Black Mambas as people told her it was a job for men but she wants to help protect animals like rhinos so that future generations can see them.

She thinks the live stream will be a big help, she said: "Since this virus people are not able to come in and see the animals but we can use the cameras to remind them that the animals are still there and they need you to watch out for them.

"I would send a message to the whole world that the Black Mambas can't do it by themselves, we need more people, we need more eyes."

Rangers watching elephants on video screen.Samsumg
Leitah can keep an eye on the animals through cameras set up in the park.
Important reserve

The Kruger National Park is a really important place for rhino, around 30 percent of the world's rhino population live there.

Unfortunately it is also a really bad place for poaching, two thirds of the rhino population was lost to poaching in between 1999 and 2019.

Kruger is now home to fewer than 4,000 rhinos, down from more than 10,000 in 2010.

Impact of Covid-19

The coronavirus pandemic has had a huge impact on tourism to the area as far fewer people have been able to travel because of restrictions.

This has meant a loss of income for the reserve.

Elephants by water.Samsung
Raising awareness

By live streaming their patrols the Black Mambas say it will enable people to see the animals despite restrictions.

They hope that by people getting in touch with things they see on the live stream they will be alerted to problems more quickly.

The group also hopes it will raise awareness of the conservation work they are doing and encourage people to give money to support their work protecting animals.

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