Animal-Borne Anti-Poaching System (MobiSys'19)

Wildlife poaching is a critical driver of biodiversity loss and population decline. Poaching is a particular threat to high value, large-bodied species, such as elephants, that are slow to reproduce.

Increasingly, GPS tracking collars serve as a key tool for studying the behavior and monitoring wildlife globally, including application to anti-poaching efforts. However, collars provide indirect information on poaching, such as immobility, that is often not available in real time.

In parallel to collar development, acoustic gunshot detection systems have proliferated in the military and law enforcement. Static systems in wildlife areas have been deployed for detecting poaching, but such systems do not scale geographically.

This paper explores the idea of fusing GPS tracking collars with acoustic shockwave detectors to create an animal-borne anti-poaching sensor. A real-time alert of gunshots near elephant groups would enable rangers to respond immediately to such events. The two main technical challenges to such a system are battery life and detection accuracy. The paper presents a prototype designed for elephants that has great promise in addressing these significant technical challenges.

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