An innovative camera and software system helps rangers detect human activity in protected areas.

Africa has vast open spaces in which protected species roam. Despite the creation of protected reserves, many unmonitored, porous entry points attract poachers, who enter the park and kill wildlife for their parts. WWF used a grant from Google.org to engineer a remarkable thermal and infrared camera and software system that can identify poachers from afar and alert park rangers of their presence.

The thermal cameras come from the company FLIR and pick up heat emitted by people and animals as they cross their viewpoint. The accompanying software determines whether that heat comes from a human. If a human is identified, rangers on patrol see an alert in real-time via the camera’s software. “This system will peel back the night’s layer to assist the brave rangers in protecting wildlife and helping to keep them safe,” says Colby Loucks, WWF’s director of the Wildlife Crime Technology Project.