Radars used to protect rhinos in Kruger National Park
Wednesday, 14 December 2016
The Postcode Meerkat wide area surveillance system was launched during an introductory function in the Kruger National Park on 7 December 2016. The Postcode Meerkat system comprises radar, cameras and information analysis software able to detect, track and classify people entering protected areas within a game park in support of rhino anti-poaching operations in the park. The system is a partnership between multiple entities including the UK People's Postcode Lottery, the South African Department of Environmental Affairs, Peace Parks Foundation, SANParks, the CSIR and Reutech Radar Systems. A major part of the system is provided by Reutech's RSR 904 ground surveillance radar that provides the system with its wide area surveillance capability. Information provided by the radar allows an operator to observe activity within its coverage area prior to further analysis within the system.
The RSR 904 radar (also referred to as the "Ngada" radar meaning Meerkat in the Nguni languages) has however a greater role to play not only in the environmental domain but also in the economic realm by way of protection of a country's borders. In this sense, there is little difference between intruders entering an environmental protected area and those illegally crossing a country's border. In both cases the task relates to detection, classification and tracking of people across remote open areas. This capability serves to enhance border protection agencies' ability to stem the illegal movement of people and vehicles across borders that may be engaging in activities detrimental to a country's economic well-being.
Border surveillance is typically characterised by wide areas and long distances that require all weather and day/night surveillance. Whilst cameras may be used to provide surveillance over an area, they are generally limited in terms of ability to concurrently observe wide areas and longer ranges during night time and under inclement weather conditions, which is where radar proves its worth. Radar on the other hand can benefit from cameras within a system by aiding classification of detected objects by directing high magnification but narrow field of view optical systems at these specific objects of interest.
Due to its compact design, low emitted power levels, low power consumption and ease of deployment and operation the RSR 904 is ideally suited for fixed or mobile installations in multiple ground surveillance applications in support of the safeguarding of a country's borders.