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ShotSpotter System Used to Catch Rhino Poachers in South Africa

Desperate measures to save rhinos 2:32

KRUGER NATIONAL PARK, South Africa — Rhino poachers risk giving themselves away when they shoot thanks to a gunfire-detection system being tried in South Africa’s flagship Kruger National Park. The stakes are high: more than 700 rhinos have been slain for their horns this year South Africa, over 450 of them in Kruger.

"ShotSpotter," a product of privately held California company SST Inc., has been used in crime-ridden U.S. neighborhoods to alert police to weapons fire, but the company says this is the first time it’s been used outside an urban environment. There have been arrests already, but park officials are reluctant to divulge details, saying that might expose the location of the ShotSpotter array.

In a pilot project, microphones were planted in undisclosed areas of vast Kruger Park, larger than Connecticut. When a shot is fired, the origin of the sound is triangulated and the service provider in the U.S relays coordinates to a Kruger operations center within 30 seconds. The company says ShotSpotter can detect gunshots up to two miles (three kilometers) away, somewhat less if a weapon has a suppressor; on average, it can locate the spot of discharge to within 33 feet (10 meters).

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— Reuters