A British invention, the Real-Time Anti-Poaching Intelligence Device (RAPID), hopes to help halt the dreadful predation of rhinoceroses by poachers. To satisfy the deluded belief that there is some magical medicinal power to be found in rhino horn (made of keratin, like my fingernails) it is estimated that an African rhino is killed every six hours. At current rates they will be extinct by 2035. Madness!
Rhino horn is literally worth its weight in gold – hence the high incidence of poaching. It’s a shame that the fools who buy it haven’t heard of another British invention – Viagra. That actually works.
Anyway, halting the problem is what counts. RAPID works by being attached to a sedated rhino’s horn from where it monitors the animal’s heart. It also incorporates a camera, which records evidence, and a satellite tracking device. “We had to find a way to protect these animals effectively in the field – the killing has to be stopped” says inventor, Dr Paul O’Donoghue of Chester University. “With this device, the heart-rate monitor triggers the alarm the instant a poaching event occurs, pin-pointing the location within a few metres so that rangers can be on the scene via helicopter or truck within minutes, leaving poachers no time to harvest the valuable parts of an animal or make good an escape” he says. “RAPID renders poaching a pointless exercise – you can’t outrun a helicopter.”
With fifteen years’ experience in the field O’Donoghue knows what he’s talking about and his device has been warmly welcomed by animal protection activists. Not content with just saving the rhino, he’s hoping to adapt it to protect other animals, such as elephants and tigers, with tests scheduled to begin early next year.