Saving the Rhino

Saving The Rhino

In support of our company values, enChoice has identified various opportunities to devote resources to corporate responsibility programs. We have been fortunate to be selected as the program manager, and to provide technical support, for an exciting project aimed at protecting our global rhino population and ultimately other threatened species from extinction. This program, named SPARK (Sentinel Protection Against Rhino Killing) is using ground-breaking technology in an effort to save endangered Rhinos, has been initially implemented at the Welgevonden Game Reserve in South Africa. In addition to SPARK, enChoice has been active in technology support for an Academy supporting education of underserved communities in the Limpopo Province of South Africa and we also support the Boys and Girls Club of Austin Texas.

The SPARK Program

enChoice, Inc. has partnered with Welgevonden Game Reserve (WGR) to provide project management and technical support for the unique Welgevonden SPARK program.

SPARK is a unique program aimed at using advanced technology including the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and animal behavioral research to protect threatened species, in particular the Rhino, from devastating poaching threats. The project’s initial implementation is at the Welgevonden Game Reserve, located in the Limpopo Province of South Africa.

Historically the Rhino has had no natural predators; survival was virtually guaranteed due to its massive size and killer horn. But the world has since changed and the Rhino’s horn is no longer a defense, but instead a highly sought after and valued item. Exacerbated by the involvement of International Crime Syndicates, Rhinos are now suffering devastating poaching which threatens the very survival of the species.

In the ground-breaking SPARK, a variety of ungulate (or hooved) species are fitted with specially designed sensors to record their movement and analyze their reactions to environmental events. As the data is collected, rule-based patterns or algorithms are used to predict when the prey-animals respond to various perceived human threats. If suspicious activity is detected, action can be taken immediately to locate and protect the threatened animal.

The Proof of Concept has been successfully completed for SPARK, leading to the conclusion that by using this technology rhino poaching success rates can drop from around 90% to single digits.

Participants in the Program

  • IBM provides IoT and Operations Control technology
  • Wageningen University handles the animal behavioral algorithms
  • MTN provides the communications layer
  • enChoice provides project management and technical support

Preparations are now underway to launch the full-fledged operation, which will involve both finalizing and testing the technical infrastructure and collaring approximately 3,000 sentinel animals including Zebra, Wildebeest, Kudu and Eland. to learn more about how you can join enChoice in Saving the Rhinos.

In an effort to save the rhino population from extinction, enChoice has commissioned Ray Dearlove as our Adviser on Endangered Species. In addition, enChoice provides support to Welgevonden Game Reserve's SPARK, which is using advanced technologies and animal behavioral research to protect threatened species.

Meet Ray Dearlove, enChoice's Adviser on Endangered Species

For the past decade, Ray Dearlove has worked tirelessly for the preservation of the rhinoceros. All five remaining rhino species are under severe threat and on the verge of extinction in their wild habitat due to excessive poaching, driven by a burgeoning market for the consumption of rhinoceros horn in China and South-east Asia.

Ray is South African born and educated and he emigrated with his family to Australia in 1987. Most of Ray’s career has been in executive positions in the IT industry, specifically with IBM, EMC and Network Appliance. Ray was able to match his love of sport with his career by being General Manager of the highly successful Sydney University Football Club for ten years and also had a stint with Rugby World Cup winning coach, Jake White, at the Brumbies. He has run his own high-profile Events Management Company for many years, organising successful and profitable events for organisations such as The Australian Rugby Union, Sydney University, the Brumbies, the South Sydney Rabbitohs Rugby League Club and also with not-for-profits such as Lifestart and the Black Dog Institute which works to address depression.

Ray Dearlove

In May 2013, Ray founded The Australian Rhino Project which is focused on establishing breeding herds of white and black rhinoceros in Australia as an insurance population for the two species which face the threat of extinction in the wild. This project gained serious global momentum - a daunting but extremely important and satisfying venture (and adventure) and while Ray is no longer directly involved, the Project is ongoing with exciting plans to import the rhinos into Australia in the not too distant future. Ray continued his desire to assist I the preservation of endangered species such as rhinos and elephants through his work with the Wildlife Conservation Network, the Communication Conservation for Africa and SPARK.

Ray has now turned his hand to writing and in 2019 published the Book of Poems for the Rhino. General Johan Jooste of SANParks was kind enough to write the foreword for the book and referred to Ray as a ‘’Rhino Whisperer’’. All proceeds of the sales of the books have been directed to the Black Mambas, the all- female anti-poaching unit.

In 2020, Ray published a book about the Australian Rhino Project entitled The Crash of Rhinos. The title is a play on words. A ‘’crash’’ is the collective noun for rhinos, but it also describes the carnage wrought by poachers in Africa who have slaughtered more than 10,000 rhinos – three a day - in the past decade to feed the seemingly insatiable demand for rhino horn in some Asian countries. ‘’The Crash of Rhinos’’ traces the origin of the Project to the present situation with the team still working to relocate rhinos to Australia. It is an insightful, frustrating, humorous and humbling story that will make you laugh, cry and tear your hair out in exasperation. In Ray’s own words, “There was extreme joy and there was acute heartache.”

This fascinating story demonstrates what can be achieved by one person with the passion, resilience and dogged persistence to meet challenges, obstacles and the glacial pace of governments - even in the face of a crisis.

Ray Dearlove

Want to help? Click here to learn more about how you can join enChoice in Saving the Rhinos.