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Flir and WWF unite to combat rhino poaching in Kenya

17 Jan 2019

Sensor systems giant to donate $3M in thermal imaging equipment and support for deployment across the country.

Flir Systems has announced the Kifaru Rising Project, a multi-year effort in collaboration with World Wildlife Fund to deploy thermal imaging technology to help improve wildlife ranger safety and stop illegal wildlife poaching of rhinos across 10 parks and game reserves in Kenya. Kifaru Rising includes a pledge by Flir of more than $3 million worth of thermal imaging technology, engineering assistance, and training. The goal is eliminating rhino poaching in Kenya by 2021.

Flir and WWF are committing to invest and deploy thermal imaging technology to protect native animal populations, ecosystems, and local communities affected by illegal poachers. In Kiswahili, “Kifaru” means rhino. Kifaru Rising is intended to bolster conservation efforts to specifically grow the wild population of black rhino, which currently number 5,400, making them one of the world’s most endangered species. The world’s last male northern white rhino died in Kenya in 2017.

The WWF first deployed Flir cameras at the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya in 2016. Poachers often work under cover of darkness, and the technology produced dramatic results when introduced. In Maasai Mara alone, rangers from local partner Mara Conservancy apprehended more than 160 poachers utilizing Flir thermal cameras over the past two and half years.

The 10 parks that will deploy FLIR technology in the Kifaru Rising project include: Lake Nakuru National Park, Solio Game Reserve, Meru National Park, Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Ruma National Park, Nairobi National Park, Ol Jogi Wildlife Conservancy, Maasai Mara National Reserve, and Tsavo East and Tsavo West National Parks.

Partners sought

To continue this momentum and improve the effectiveness of thermal technology in eliminating poaching, Flir and WWF are planning to add more corporate partners that can contribute complementary technology and outdoor gear for wildlife rangers who patrol millions of hectares of wilderness. Additional technology and rquipment needed includes aerial drones, batteries, and solar panels, along with conventional ranger kit such as boots, tents, and raingear.

“Our collaboration with WWF on the Kifaru Rising project signifies the broadest scale deployment of Flir technology for wildlife protection anywhere in the world and represents a vital step to help save these endangered animals,” commented Jim Cannon, President and CEO at Flir.

“Rhino poaching is a global issue, and increasing funding, activism, and collaboration amongst governmental and non-governmental organizations must increase. Without FLIR technology deployed in these parks, rangers are at a competitive disadvantage. Flir technology has proven effective with rangers, and together with WWF, our focus shifts to expanding the use of the technology and empowering conservation authorities across Kenya to eliminate poaching activity.”

Carter Roberts, President and CEO of WWF, added, “We can’t save rhinos if we don’t stop poaching. The real heroes in this fight are rangers – men and women who patrol some of the most dangerous wilderness areas on the planet and put their lives at risk to stop those who are often better armed and operating in the dead of night.

“New technologies help change the game; they give rangers a leg-up in deterring criminals and protecting themselves on the front lines of this war. Flir’s commitment enables us to scale up efforts to end poaching in Kenya and helps us save more rhinos – and rangers – in the process.”


The following video illustrates the aims and approach of the The Kifaru Rising Project supported by Flir and the World Wildlife Fund:

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