Into the Wild

Largest game reserve in South Africa implements anti-poaching surveillance system.

On a typical day at Kruger National Park, the largest game reserve in South Africa, visitors on safari will encounter the Big Five—lions, African elephants, Cape buffalo, leopards and black rhinoceros—living in their natural habitat. In addition to the 147 species of mammals—more than any other African game reserve—the park is home to more than 500 bird and almost 2,000 flower and tree species.

The park spans more than 7,000 square miles, has eight main entrances and features six ecosystems. Accommodations vary from rustic camping to modern and luxurious lodgings. The park is best known as a self-drive destination and annually welcomes 2 million day visitors alone.

Security Challenges

In stark contrast to the natural harmony of the reserve, almost 250 animals, including the critically endangered white rhinos, have been poached in the last few years.

"Poaching is our main focus," said Mbongeni M. Tukela, acting regional manager of SANParks, in a press release. "We have communities on the boundaries with low employment so they look to the park for ways to sustain themselves. They go for game to sell—there is a big market for bush meat—anything from warthog to impala or bigger bucks, kudu, even buffalo and giraffe. This is more of a problem than rhino and elephant ivory."

In addition to poaching, another problem plaguing the park is animal fatalities caused by speeding cars. The park has set strict speed limits, but the problem remains.

The Integrated Solution

The income generated from Kruger National Park is used to sustain conservation efforts in more than 20 other parks in South Africa, which means successful management of this expansive park and the continued success of tourism are crucial.

To ensure the park's continued success, officials needed to implement a surveillance system to discourage poachers and speeders.

Milestone Certified Partner Camsecure installed Milestone Systems' XProtect Enterprise IP video management software to manage Axis PTZ network cameras, which are positioned at the main gates and throughout the various camps in the park.

XProtect Enterprise is designed to support large multi-server, multi-site installations with unlimited cameras. The software easily controls the Axis PTZ network cameras' movements via a computer connected to the network.

Park management can centrally access live camera views and play back video of up to 64 cameras from multiple servers simultaneously from Skukuza, the park's administrative headquarters.

Security at the Gates

The park's gates are the first line of security. Axis cameras are positioned to capture license plate numbers and whole-car images. Admission guards register all vehicles and keep count of the number of people in each vehicle.

"We check that the number of people entering and exiting the gates is the same in each vehicle—that no one who entered has left on foot to smuggle poached bush meat," Tukela said. "The boundary with Mozambique alone is more than 150 kilometers and porous with no fences."

Stopping Speeders

Visitors and staff both have roles to play in the safety of the animals. In addition to patrols, park staff relies upon vigilant visitors to report speeding drivers and suspicious activity.

With the integrated system, if an animal is hit by a car, park managers can query video around the time and location of the accident. Once they identify and locate the suspected vehicle, they can track it until park officials can intervene and take necessary action. For further evidence, the Axis cameras deliver clear images of any dents and management can compare videos of the suspected vehicle before and after the accident.

Thwarting Thefts

Due to cases of armed robberies and thefts perpetuated by staff members, cameras now also monitor every cash register and ATM machine to ensure the safety of visitors. Employees are aware that park managers are able to remotely watch over them and can zoom in on transactions.

The cameras also improve customer service. "Sometimes, I pick up the phone and ask, "Why are you not attending to the guests?" Tukela said. "So, they know I am watching."

With the Milestone-Axis infrastructure in place, Kruger National Park now has an effective counterpoaching strategy, and park officials can focus on conservation efforts and providing their guests with a wild experience.

About the Author

Sherleen Mahoney is a Web managing editor at 1105 Media.


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