Wildlife poachers have grown increasingly tech-savvy and are now using social media and geo-tagging to locate animals, says Ike Phaahla, general manager of communications at the Kruger National Park.
In an emailed response to BusinessTech, Phaahla confirmed that the park was now looking at ways to clamp down on the abuse of this technology – including the possible restriction of cellular signals in the park.
“Cell phone signals in the Kruger National Park is (already) very limited, but there are hotspots within the park that have signal and are causing this problem,” he said.
“We will be consulting technology experts to guide us in that regard.”
In a separate interview with Cape Talk, Phaahla said that no official decision had been made around the restriction of signal and that many suggestions will be considered by the park’s management.
“We have observed that a lot of people do take pictures for their social media platforms and leave the geotagging function active. That does pose problems as it gives coordinates on the exact location of where you are and where the animals are,” he said.
“We know for a fact that (this) intelligence is crucial for poaching syndicates as they do not want to be caught and lose their freedom just like any other criminal.”
Phaahla said that there were also concerns about apps that point about the live posting of ‘Big Five’ animals which causes speeding and rushes in the park.
This technology leads to congestion and heated exchanges at these animal sightings, he said.