The Kifaru Rising Project, a collaboration between FLIR Systems and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), will deploy thermal imaging technology to combat illegal rhino poaching across 10 locations in Kenya. FLIR has pledged $3 million in thermal imaging technology, engineering assistance, and training. The goal is the elimination of rhino poaching in Kenya by 2021.
The Black rhino population currently stands at 5,400 animals, giving them "critical endangered" status. The park rangers' fight to protect the rhinos from poachers often sounds like a war. British SAS commandos have even trained sniper teams to serve in policing efforts. According to the WWF, poachers often work under cover of darkness. FLIR's thermal imaging technology can even the nighttime playing field for the park rangers.
Thermal imaging technology has already proven to be effective in Kenya's fight against poaching. Since FLIR thermal cameras were deployed at the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya in 2016, more than 160 poachers have been caught by park rangers equipped with thermal imaging equipment.
The Kifaru Rising Project will arm rangers in nine additional locations in Kenya: Lake Nakuru National Park, Solio Game Reserve, Meru National Park, Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Ruma National Park, Nairobi National Park, OL Jogi Wildlife Conservancy, and Tsavo East and Tsavo West National parks.
Additional corporate partners are being sought for the Kifaru Rising Project, with the hope of attaining aerial drones among other supplemental technologies for thermal imaging.