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Central Tuli Game Reserve becomes first ‘Smart Parks system’ in Botswana

The Timbo Afrika Foundation and Smart Parks have implemented the “first Smart Parks system in Botswana”. From now on, African wildlife will be protected in the Central Tuli Game Reserve with smart, advanced technology. Moreover, this enables the relocation and introduction of endangered and disappeared animal species.

The game reserve consists of roughly 70,0000 hectares, partly bought by investor and philanthropist Albert Hartog, who wants to clear the area of old fences and barbed wire to create a “wildlife corridor”.

A free and safe connection between adjacent nature reserves to allow wildlife to walk their original migration routes. During the installation executed by Smart Parks last April, a LoRaWAN network with five gateway installations and several sensors were successfully deployed.

This new technology enables staff, guides, and researchers to monitor vehicles, rangers, roads and the recently constructed 30km high-tech, advanced, and electrified fence that separates the habitat of humans and the wildlife reserve.

The LoRaWAN network will enable the park management to deploy battery powered sensors and devices across its entire wildlife reserve for accurate monitoring of wildlife and fine-scale data collection. This will allow the Koro park management to optimize efficiency in operations within the landscape they manage.

Prevention of human-wildlife conflicts

Conflicts between humans and wildlife have long been a pressing issue throughout Africa. This is a recurring problem for farmers, park managers and owners of nature reserves and wildlife parks. Habitat loss has become the greatest threat to African wildlife.

For example, as their habitats shrink, elephants are progressively forced into closer contact with people, resulting in more frequent and severe conflict over space and resources with consequences ranging from crop raiding to reciprocal loss of life.

Lions, leopards, and hyenas on occasion prey on farmers livestock and are often shot as a result. These incidents regularly have a fatal outcome for humans or wildlife. The Dutch organizations Timbo Afrika Foundation and Smart Parks have joined forces to reduce these conflicts, with support from the Botswana Department of Wildlife & National Parks.

Smart Parks technological solutions

The Smart Parks LoRaWAN network collects data from the advanced sensors and devices that are scattered throughout the reserve. The sensors track wildlife and send accurate information though the LoRaWAN® network about roads, gates, vehicles, water, fuel tanks and buildings which simplify operational planning and park management.

The electrified fence will be monitored with the use of fence sensors, measuring the voltage of the fence. In case of destruction of the fence, the fence sensors will send a notification to the control room, providing the opportunity of an immediate response of the maintenance team.

All sensors’ data is processed in an easy-to-use web application. This application provides accurate information from all sensors in the park.

Tim van Dam, director of Smart Parks, says: “This is the most advanced Smart Parks we have implemented to date. It is a huge challenge to work in these areas, but the dedication of everyone involved exceeded all our expectation.

During the deployment, one of the local staff members said: “Sometimes we have to give all our energy to animals because they can’t help themselves. Therefore, we have to work hard for wildlife.”

Albert Hartog, philanthropist, investor in the Central Tuli Game Reserve and owner of the Timbo Afrika Foundation, says: “Having your own wildlife reserve is an immense job, fortunately this area in Central Tuli lends itself well to nature conservation and wildlife management.

“One of the main goals of the Timbo foundation is the relocation and introduction of endangered and disappeared animal species. They must be animals that originate from the region.

“I especially hope that the white and black rhino will return to Tuli. These iconic animals have declined dramatically in numbers due to poaching. In fact, the black rhino is so endangered that there are only about 5,600 individuals left in the wild.

“The first rhinos should be back here in the autumn of 2021. With the installation of Smart Parks, we have further prepared the area. You can only relocate endangered species if your protective measures against poaching and human-animal conflicts are in order. Fortunately, that is now the case with this latest advanced technology from Smart Parks, we are proud of it.”

In the coming period, the network will be expanded with more functionalities, including digital cameras, acoustic sensors and the latest OpenCollar Edge sensors with embedded machine learning functions.

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