To deter poachers, African rhinos fit with GPS chips

Officials in South Africa are fitting rhinos with GPS chips to monitor them and deter poaching, according to a new report.

Most folks use global positioning satellite, or GPS, technology to get driving directions or find a nearby restaurant with their smartphone, but officials in South Africa are using it instead to discourage poaching of protected rhinoceroses.

The horns of five rhinos in the nation's northwest have been fitted with implanted GPS chips, inserted in a dead part of the horn with a small hole, the BBC reports.

The devices not only track the animals, but send a signal to wardens in Mafikeng Game Reserve if a rhino is making unusual movement, is sleeping for longer than usual or has left the park completely.

A special team has been assembled to react, track and reach an animal in the case of an alarm sounding.

The project, which began in April, is an important step in protecting animals that are in high -- but illegal -- demand.

Already, more than 200 rhinos have been slaughtered in South Africa in 2010, according to the report.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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