Coinciding with World Animal Day earlier this month, Samsung announced the expansion of its Wildlife Watch pilot, in partnership with Africam and The Black Mamba Anti-Poaching Unit, to protect against animal poaching in the South African bush.
Launched in 2021, the programme uses Samsung technology as a live ‘surveillance system’ to enable anybody to watch wildlife in the Balule Nature Reserve in South Africa, part of the Kruger National Park. The pilot was a tremendous success in keeping one of nature’s most endangered animals – the rhino – safe thanks to the virtual rangers who took the watch with Samsung.
Leitah Mkhabela, Black Mamba ranger, says: “Not a single attempt to poach rhinos in the reserve has been observed since the pilot launched. However, poaching of other wildlife in the reserve has not gone away. Tourism is still below pre-COVID levels, meaning fewer eyes are monitoring the park, the cost-of-living crisis has led to an increase in poverty, and recruiting new rangers is difficult because of low pay and challenging working conditions.”
In the latest enhancement to the programme, Samsung will utilise technology in its Galaxy S21 Ultra and new S23 Ultra devices to broadcast the 24/7 live streams of wild animals. With an advanced camera system and re-engineered Nightography capabilities, along with a 200MP Adaptive Pixel sensor and 10x Optical Zoom Telephoto Camera, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra devices will film live footage day and night.
They will also support the rangers by improving the quality of the evidence they send back to headquarters to use as evidence for poaching investigations – and the durable materials used to construct the devices will improve resilience in the bush when the rangers are using them out on patrol.
The impact the Galaxy SmartTag has on improving the safety of the rangers and helping them co-ordinate conservation efforts in the bush will also be tested. Using SmartThings Find, Black Mamba HQ will monitor where individuals are in the reserve.
To help locals understand the importance of wildlife conservation from a young age, Samsung has worked with The Black Mambas to create “The Samsung Bush Babies Animal Insights”: an educational programme for young people in local communities, highlighting the importance of wildlife diversity, conservation and protecting the reserve for generations to come. The Freestyle Projector will deliver optimal viewing in a compact, portable device – enabling The Black Mambas to teach the Bush Babies Animals Insights initiative from anywhere.
Mark Holloway, MX director of Category Management, Samsung Europe, says: “Samsung’s Wildlife Watch pilot encouraged thousands of people across the world to lend their eyes to prevent poaching in the African bush. It demonstrates the positive role technology can play in tackling real-world challenges. Samsung wants to continue raising awareness on the importance of wildlife conservation and encourage people worldwide to take the watch and lend their support to The Black Mambas in this fight to protect nature.”
Everyone is invited to ‘take the watch’ this year and become a virtual ranger, helping to protect endangered animals from poaching by monitoring them in real time in their natural habitat and enjoying live sightings of these spectacular animals from their own homes.
By becoming a virtual ranger and taking the watch, you can alert rangers if you see animals in danger or signs of poaching by clicking at the bottom of the live stream page, share what you see via snapshots on social media to encourage others to take part, and donate to The Black Mamba Anti-Poaching Unit.
With different camera views, it’s never the same watch twice, and you may witness elephants, lions and even giraffes in the wild wherever you are.
Virtual rangers who want to understand more about the signs of poaching activity can learn more by watching The Black Mambas Boot Camp on the website. This six-part series provides tips from the rangers on the sights and sounds to look out for when taking the watch, and explains the important work they do on their patrols.