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Expanding Connected Conservation in 2018


Written by Doc Watson, Group Executive: Cisco Alliance, Dimension Data and Karen Walker, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Cisco

For 27 years, Dimension Data and Cisco have been partners in delivering on a greater good for the world. In 2015, with a shared passion for protecting wildlife heritage through technology, we launched Connected Conservation. The goal was to help protect and stop the poaching of rhinos using a unique solution, starting with a pilot in a private game reserve adjacent to the Kruger National Park in South Africa.

The project has been a resounding success: in just two years of deployment, the Connected Conservation project has reduced poaching in the reserve by 96%.

Due to this success, today we are pleased to announce that in 2018 Dimension Data and Cisco will be expanding the project into more regions in Africa to protect more species of animals. Specifically, we will be rolling it out to Zambia and Mozambique, to protect the elephant, and Kenya, to protect both the elephant and rhino.

We’re replicating Connected Conversation in other reserves to not only protect the rhino, but also conserve other endangered species globally such as elephants, lions, pangolin, tigers in India and Asia, and even sea rays, sharks and whales in the ocean.

Getting closer to our dream

In expanding the project, we’re getting closer to our dream of eradicating all forms of poaching and eliminating the international trade of rhino horn and elephant tusks.

Every year over 1,000 rhinos are poached in South Africa – which equates to three rhinos poached every day. If this number continues, rhinos face extinction by the year 2025. Beyond rhinos, every year an estimated 27,000 elephants are slaughtered (8% of the African savanna population), equating to an elephant being poached every 15 minutes.

According to The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), the ivory trade is at an all-time high. Therefore, there’s definitely no better time than now to help save endangered species.

The unique solution

Connected Conservation is a success not only in the sharp decrease in the number of rhinos poached, but also in its innovative approach. Unlike any other solution ever used, the endangered animals remain undisturbed and free to roam in their natural habitat – while technology is used to track the movement of people (and potential poachers) coming in and out of the reserve.

Many organisations have committed to protecting animals through various reactive initiatives, such as dehorning, or inserting sensors in the horn and subcutaneously.However, the problem with reactive initiatives is that by the time the reserve rangers reach the animal, it has been killed and the rhino horn or elephant tusks have been hacked off.

In using a combination of Cisco technology of digital infrastructure, hybrid cloud, digital workplace, and cybersecurity, the Connected Conservation Pilot was able to overcome many limitations often faced by game reserves in these remote locations. These include manual security processes (lock and key), basic access control, a lack of basic IT infrastructure, limited communications capabilities – and harsh environment and changing weather patterns.

Cisco Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Karen Walker, comments, ‘More than ever before, technology has given us the ability to change the world – not tomorrow, not someday, but now. At Cisco, we’re dedicated to making a difference by connecting the world and protecting the oldest and most vulnerable animals with some of the newest connectivity technology. We are extremely proud to be part of the expansion of Connected Conservation into Africa, to save more endangered species.”

We will continue to roll out the project in as many reserves as possible and hope to make the difference we have seen with the success of the pilot project.

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