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US Startup Recycling Smartphones To Combat Poaching In Africa

US Startup Recycling Smartphones To Combat Poaching In Africa

A Californian technology startup says it has developed the first real-time detection system for deterring poaching and illegal logging in Africa’s equatorial forests using discarded Android smartphones to send instant alerts to forest rangers, Eco-Business reports.

Startup Rainforest Connection partnered with the Zoological Society of London, an international scientific charity that works for the conservation of habitats and animals worldwide. They plan to install the anti-deforestation, anti-poaching technology in Cameroon this year.

Current monitoring methods often rely on aerial surveys or satellite surveillance,
which usually detect deforestation days or weeks after the event, the company said.

“It’s clear that real-time awareness and intervention is a major missing piece in protecting the world’s last remaining rainforests,” said Topher White, founder of Rainforest Connection.

The system uses discarded Android smartphones that send instant messages to forest rangers, allowing them to intervene quickly, the company claims. It was first tested in 2013 against illegal loggers in Western Sumatra, Indonesia.

Each device is autonomous and uses sensitive microphones that can protect one square mile of rain forest, often home to more than 1000 species of plants and animals.

Built to operate for years, the devices use a solar panel design that can generate electrical power under the shadow of the tree canopy.

“We think this could be a critical new tool for protecting large areas of rainforest,” said Chris Ransom, program manager for  Zoological Society of London in Africa. “We’re excited to deploy it this year in collaboration with our local partners in Africa.”

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Randy Hayes, the founder of the Rainforest Action Network, said, “This is the most exciting critical new tool I’ve seen that I think can help us get the job done.”

Topher White, RFCx’s founder, believes the right tools have been developed at just the right moment to make a
difference. He said: “It’s clear that real-time awareness and intervention is a major missing piece in
protecting the world’s last remaining rainforests.

“By using old smartphones and existing telecommunications infrastructure, we have built a system that we think could scale quickly enough to make a real impact,” Topher said.