Remote Metal Sensors Used to Detect Poachers

Interesting use of the technology, although I'm sure it has more value on the battlefield than to detect poachers.

The system consists of a network of foot-long metal detectors similar to those used in airports. When moving metal objects such as a machete or a rifle trip the sensor, it sends a radio signal to a wireless Internet gateway camouflaged in the tree canopy as far as a kilometer away. This signal is transmitted via satellite to the Internet, where the incident is logged and messages revealing the poachers' position and direction are sent instantly to park headquarters, where patrols can then be dispatched.

Posted on June 6, 2007 at 11:06 AM • 25 Comments

Comments

BenJune 6, 2007 11:47 AM

This seems like a great innovation for countries (Kenya, Zambia, South Africa, India, Thailand) where poaching has produced a significant negative impact on the economy. Economics can be just as important as, if not more important than, military actions.

dragonfrogJune 6, 2007 11:58 AM

Seems this would only work where there is no legitimate reason to be carrying about a metal object, or at least where the majority of those carrying metal objects are your target group.

A bicyle, aluminum tent poles, spare parts for a village well pump - all would set off this detector. As long as those things don't go by too frequently compared to actual poachers.

Given that, it does make sense for battlefield applications, especially battlefields like Western occupation forces like to run them - a blip appears on the metal detector screen, a helicopter gunship is dispatched, and a press release goes out stating that a convoy of insurgents was destroyed; regardless of whether that convoy was actually a farmer with a donkey carrying a hoe and shovel to his field...

Geoff LaneJune 6, 2007 12:02 PM

Of course this is _so_ much better than the old solution of a tripwire connected to the trigger of an old blunderbuss. Pointing the gun at the probably location of the poacher is optional and depends on local laws :-)

bobJune 6, 2007 12:10 PM

Plus it doesnt sound too difficult for a person already intent on committing a crime to radiolocate the hub and destroy it.

KathyJune 6, 2007 1:18 PM

Why would we fund a field trial at a location that does not have poaching, rather than one that does???

AnonymousJune 6, 2007 1:24 PM

As long as they leave our pot growing plantation on the park reservation alone.

MilanJune 6, 2007 1:33 PM

"I'm sure it has more value on the battlefield than to detect poachers."

This depends on what you mean by 'value,' of course. I would say that preventing poaching is inherently a far more valuable endeavour than any sort of battle.

jJune 6, 2007 1:43 PM

"Given that, it does make sense for battlefield applications, especially battlefields like Western occupation forces like to run them . . . "

I don't know much about how Western occupation forces run battlefields, but my idea of a battlefield is generally not a place where one can run out and seed the ground ahead of time with the network of detectors needed to make this work.

That's where the managers of a domain where poaching is a problem have a great advantage over an army using it in the battlefield.

peterJune 6, 2007 2:32 PM

This sounds like VietNam era concept technology from the DMZ, etc., which gave rise to RFID, which now migrates to anti-poaching. What next?

AnonymousJune 6, 2007 2:48 PM

"Interesting use of the technology, although I'm sure it has more value on the battlefield than to detect poachers."

Or more likely, this is pre-existing military technology that has now made it into the public arena. Battlefield detection sensor, and associated munitions, have been around since Vietnam, and you can probably safely bet the Isreali's have some advanced military gadgets in this arena as well...

John MooreJune 6, 2007 2:52 PM

Wonder if the money had been better spent on hiring more park rangers. Their salaries must be low compared to the cost of a satellite transmitter. Meanwhile, the gorillas and elephants numbers dwindle. Gee, but it was such a neat idea! Of course, the best economical way to keep people out and away from poaching is to make the animals radioactive. Look at the Ukraine and the new, hot nature preserves they have thanks to poor Russian reactor design.

TheunsJune 6, 2007 4:29 PM

I wonder if selling second-hand metal detectors will be more lucrative than poaching...

X the UnknownJune 6, 2007 5:20 PM

@j: "... my idea of a battlefield is generally not a place where one can run out and seed the ground ahead of time with the network of detectors needed to make this work."

Well, it's certainly both "more responsible" and inherently safer than laying a minefield.

Back in 'Nam, forward artillery units had almost every landmark and site-of-interest thoroughly surveyed, and sighted-in.

Combine one of these sensor-systems with a little computerized targeting, and who needs a minefield, anyway?

X the UnknownJune 6, 2007 5:24 PM

I wonder how sensitive this system would be to a "flood attack": scatter lots of ten-penny nails throughout the area (either manually, as an unarmed "hiker" who may come back to poach later, or via mortar in a battlefield setting).

ChrisJune 7, 2007 9:17 AM

RE: FooDooHackedYou

It' doesn't have to detect your Glock, it will pick up your ammunition just fine.

(And yes, I'm sure it would detect the metal barrel and reinforcements along the slide of your Glock).

MattJune 7, 2007 10:34 AM

Good use of technology. Of course, it will be only as good as the people that install it, maintain it, monitor it and respond to it. It could at least indicate various new routes poachers are taking into the park.

I wonder how succesfully it will detect non-metallic weaponry?

For all of that, the poachers would soon learn the sensitivity of the system, the range of the dectors and how fast a QRF can be brought on the scene and learn how to counter it.

ShadJune 7, 2007 12:36 PM

So what? The thing is likely to radiate a lot of EM, whether it is the detector itself (if it is not purely passive, which I don't suppose) or the communication link between the device and the retranslation station. The retranslation station radiates too. A radio scanner and a directional antenna can be used to locate the things.

A sensor similar to the various off-the-shelf wearable wifi signal detectors can be used to alert the wearer to the presence of the metal detector's signal before the wearer gets into the detector's range. (There is a range where the signal reflected by the metal parts is too weak for the metal detector to detect, but the transmitted signal is still good enough to be easily detected. In this range there is early warning of the detector proximity.)

bobJune 8, 2007 1:31 PM

@Joshua: Well, true; but without hub destruction you are going to be sending multiple data points on sensors indicating your position closely, whereas after hub destruction they will only know your general vicinity. Even then they will have to be actively monitoring the hub status because loss of hub activity might not trigger an alarm which detection of metal surely would. I am assuming something like 10x to 50x as many sensors as hubs.

averrosJune 9, 2007 5:51 AM

Another useless way to spend other people's money. How is it going to discriminate between a backpack with a metal frame and a gun?

And how many of these will have to be deployed to have any effect? They're not long-range sensors, by any means. And there's an issue of battery lifetime (the thingie has to transmit its location pretty often, or the poachers will simply have someone to go ahead and clear the path by tossing them away - oh, and moving it 10ft aside would likely be sufficient to make a safe path wide enough to smuggle heavy artillery while registering as mere noise on the el-cheapo GPS receivers of these thingies).

"Smart dust" kind of things without nanotechnology to make it in huge quantities really cheap is just plain dumb.

JohnJJune 11, 2007 8:47 AM

@Geoff Lane: "Of course this is _so_ much better than the old solution of a tripwire .."

Yes, it is. The animals at risk of being poached can trigger trip wires but would not set off these alarms.

feloAugust 5, 2007 11:36 AM

This is a good idea but more about economic issues is needed. what is the payback period? maintenance? etc

maddySeptember 13, 2007 3:37 AM

ur site is too good i really appritiate it. but can u tell me the name of the sensors used to detect the metal. if u can i am very much thankful to u. thanks

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