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10 December, 2013 - 16:07 By News Desk

Cambridge firm devises powerful anti-poaching device

Thermal imaging technology from Cambridge-based Thermoteknix

Powerful new thermal imaging technology from Cambridge UK company Thermoteknix has been unveiled to stop the global poaching plague.

From rhinos in Africa to deer in the Scottish Highlands – even natural mussel beds which are being plundered – the business is confident it can counter the criminals with its TiCAM 750 thermal imaging binoculars.

Thermoteknix says that rising food prices in the UK allied to pay restrictions have led to a dramatic increase in illegal hunting and fishing throughout the country, mostly in rural areas.

A spokesperson told Business Weekly: “The old-fashioned image of a man in a long coat out to put some food on his table has given way to organised gangs of criminals, well-armed and with packs of dogs; stealing to order – often for unscrupulous butchers and restaurant owners.

“All livestock and game can be at risk – from deer for their venison meat stalked and shot with high velocity rifles to salmon taken from aquaculture sites. Natural mussel beds have also been plundered and there was even a case in North Wales where wildlife officers apprehended two men for the theft of 200,000 wild bluebell bulbs.

“Poaching can be well organised, with the most calculating offenders choosing to carry out their (generally night time) activities in areas where their poaching may not be noticed for several weeks at a time and when it is finally discovered by the landowner or the authorities, it can often be too late as the damage to stocks has already been done.

“Anti-poaching patrols can be time consuming and usually involves covering a great deal of ground, sometimes spooking the very herd being protected with powerful spotlights from vehicles. In South Africa, specific Rhino are assigned their own 24 hour armed personal bodyguards.”

Thermoteknix says that with the TiCAM 750 hand held thermal imaging binoculars very large areas can be monitored from an elevated position in minutes, easily tracking deer movements, looking for heat signatures from vehicles, campfires or indeed poachers with firearms.

One of Thermoteknix’ customers, Scott Country – a leading UK retailer in night vision – has been concentrating on providing estates, farmers and land owners with equipment for the use of combating wildlife crime in the UK.

TiCAM’s high resolution enables correct identification to determine whether an observed object of interest is a poacher with a rifle, for example, or a roe deer on the hill.

The company says: “The higher resolution and greater detection range of 2km+ in TiCAM allows us to see considerably more detail. We can actually see hair texture and defining features in the deer herd.

“With the 750LR (Long Range Model) we can clearly see the distinct shapes of the animals at extreme distances and define the deer against male and females, young and old herd members, due in part to the 640x480 detector resolution. We could even count antler points. This makes TiCAM binoculars ideal for deer surveys or herd analysis.”

The joy of the device, says Thermoteknix, is that a vast area can be surveyed passively and without lighting equipment – so while the observer can see livestock and potential poachers, they cannot be detected themselves – effectively enabling covert anti-poaching surveillance which does not disturb the animals either.

Recorded footage is instantly saved into internal memory of the camera and can then be downloaded to a computer. This may serve as evidence of illegal poaching to present to the police.

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