Can Artificial Intelligence Help Pinch Poachers?
31 October 2019
“Every Ranger and Scout of Greater Mapungubwe is a custodian who holds the responsibility of guarding the future of the Protected Area’s natural biodiversity – for in these wild places is found testament of the laws of the Earth.” These beautiful and motivational words are contained within the Greater Mapungubwe Transfrontier Conservation Area’s (GMTFCA) Ranger/Scout Manifesto that was signed by chosen ranger force representatives from South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe on a cold crisp morning in August.
Standing in a dry sandy riverbed at the confluence of the broad Sashe and Limpopo Rivers – the heart of this transfrontier conservation area – the various officials proudly signed the manifesto that symbolises the pledge and bond they make towards ensuring co-operative law enforcement within the GMTFCA landscape of the three countries.
Field staff and park rangers of the GMTFCA meet regularly to exchange information and develop strategies to overcome their particular challenges. Representing this dedication to cross-border collaboration, a brand new badge that contains the flags of all three countries will hence forward be worn by all field staff. As these were handed over to the country representatives, the officials saluted each other, confirming their bond with a broad smile. The badges might be small, but will be worn on the shoulder of each uniform with pride and a steadfast commitment to protect the magnificent cultural but challenging landscape of Greater Mapungubwe TFCA.
NEW EQUIPMENT FOR ZIMBABWE SENTINEL SCOUTS
During August 2017 the Sentinel scouts working in the Zimbabwe component of the GMTFCA were rewarded for their hard work through a donation of equipment essential to their efforts in combating poaching activities within the region. The donation – made possible by Peace Parks Foundation through the Resource Manager’s Committee (RMC) – consisted of basic tools such as spotlights, handcuffs, multipurpose knives, pepper spray and camera equipment. “These scouts truly deserve it”, said Law Enforcement Coordinator, Stefan Cilliers. “I am proud and honoured to be part of their team”.
GREATER MAPUNGUBWE TRANSFRONTIER CONSERVATION AREA
The Greater Mapungubwe Transfrontier Conservation Area measures 5 909 km2 and is situated at the confluence of the Limpopo and Shashe Rivers, encompassing areas in three countries – Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe. The TFCA includes Botswana’s Northern Tuli Game Reserve; South Africa’s Mapungubwe National Park and various privately owned ranches, and Zimbabwe’s Tuli Circle Safari Area, Sentinel Ranch, Nottingham Estate, Maramani Communal Land and the Machachuta, Masera and River Ranch Resettlement Areas. Visitors flock to the area not only to see the magnificent sandstone formations, the wide variety of trees – notably the enormous baobab – and game and birdlife, but also to experience a kinship with past generations. The similarity of ivory objects, pottery remains and imported glass beads excavated at different sites spread across the modern international borders of Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe, attests to the cultural affinity of the people who lived in the Limpopo-Shashe basin during the Iron Age.