FOR THE RHINO
By Priaash Ramadeen - Sep 22 2019
The first time I went to the Kruger National Park in South Africa was in 2012 with a team back when I worked for a research and development organization. The goal was to investigate how technology could potentially be used to assist with security efforts in the midst of the rhino poaching crisis (there is STILL a massive crisis and we must not forget but keep fighting on).
As a research team back then we had prepared possible scenarios which we wanted to test and discuss with the rangers on the ground and the operational team. When we got there, the real world became apparent within minutes, things were happening right then and there. “Shots fired”, a message came through from one of the rangers on the radio, response and reaction followed.
We were NOT there to just sit in a meeting room and have a discussion. We became entrenched in the frontline - we observed and we learnt. And we discovered the immense passion that everyone we met there had. It was not just their jobs but their purpose. This hit me hard personally and had an impact on my resolve to do purposeful work. Since then, "for the rhino" is a mantra we have heard continuously. It has worked its way into our mission and it fuels our strong passion for conservation.
Many people have over the years asked me “Why do you care about working to assist all the efforts to save the rhino ?”. I did not go to parks and reserves growing up, the first time I saw a rhino was actually in Centurion :-). The answer that I came up with is that when you see people working with purpose first hand, you adopt and become part of their purpose, when you see a rhino close up, you realise there is something truly special and amazing here, when you have the ability to assist (ours is from a technology effort) then you do what you can.
Fast forward to now, years later and on this World Rhino Day, we want to share a small part of our story as to how we at The Awareness Company are here creating and thinking about solutions for conservation, for tourism and yes, very much still for the rhino.
So what we are doing now and want to do going forward forms very much of the message we want to deliver to you. To start the conversation, to act now and to deliver solutions together with people who are on the ground working for the rhino. To engage with organizations, NGOs and NPOs, corporate partners, whomever who is truly genuine in their actions and that want to contribute towards saving the rhino (and other species which are threatened and biodiversity as a whole) .
Rhino conservation has been hit hard by illegal activities, resulting in rising concerns over the sustained life of the rhino. It is important when analysing this from a global perspective to consider that the problem itself consists of multiple areas that need action (security, ecology, crime, illegal trade, funding, technology, political will, government buy-in etc.). These are extremely complex and cross-organisational. Our holistic thinking in creating solutions for example wants to look at turning the focus back to conservation.
At The Awareness Company, we tell stories from data. Storytelling is the method that we have chosen to communicate operational insight, action decisions and leverage data and information towards creating value. A story is personal, you can relate to it and it is something you do not forget easily.
In our experience we have seen and worked with all different types of technology being tested in game parks and reserves ranging from drones to cameras to artificial intelligence to sensors to apps and many others and there is potential value in all of them, but the context and the environment of use is KEY. Leveraging off this experience, we have created a holistic tourism and conservation solution called HYDRA which is driven by data. It has been built for the conservation community.
Applications of HYDRA include park security, rangers and security teams in the field (what to do, where to go, when, coordinated and real time information), ecology insights (from animal monitoring and environmental data), law enforcement (understanding crime patterns), tourism and tourist safety, lodge maintenance, game breeding, wildlife translocation safety, invasive species management, judicial court monitoring, community surveys and habitat information monitoring.
These applications are based on data, how to use it effectively and how to bring in technology (new and existing) iteratively and in a cost effective manner. We partner, integrate various solutions fit for purpose and provide simple easy to use technology that aggregates your information in one view.
We do not want to see technology being pushed and utilized incorrectly or for the wrong reasons. Yes, we are a technology company but we understand that technology is only a part of the solution as a whole. We must be responsible. Why does conservation not have access to high tech, operational, industrial grade solutions built and tested for Africa. We want to create something that will not only last for 20 years and beyond but will be flexible to continuously change, innovate upon and to better cater for current and future requirements, problems and wants (for example looking at new value from data for tourism). Our focus and strength is on data, how to best leverage it within conservation and in the fight against poaching.
Within storytelling, there are three parts to how we see usefulness in a story and how we want to apply technology in a responsible way that adds value to all stakeholders.
The first part is “what happened”, have we truly looked back to understand how we got here, how we got to this state ? We propose that there is data there, it needs a true engine built for purpose to uncover the deeper insights sitting there.
The second part is “what is happening now,'' this speaks to using technology on how to react better, how to optimise the limited resources and how to collaborate with each other in a safe and secure but useful manner.
The third part is “what’s going to happen”, to anticipate the future and to position ourselves to make better decisions now. We believe that the key experienced people working everyday combined with real data insights can lead us to put this future picture together and ACT now. The most important thing is actually not only to predict or anticipate the future but RATHER to from insights bring it back to the present day, and understand as a group what we need to do NOW to ensure and shape the future we want to see, a future with the rhino in it and thriving. We believe that data driven storytelling can play a positive role here. Contact us and together let us help tell this story.
Thank you to ALL who have engaged with us, who have brought us into this world of conservation, and who have allowed us to work with you for this fight.
- The Awareness Company