Wilsonville company cracks down on poachers in Africa

Local technology fights poaching in Africa

A Wilsonville company is playing a crucial role in cracking down on the poaching epidemic going on right now in Africa.  

Every year, criminals hunt down and kill rhinos and elephants by the thousands for their horns and tusks.

"There's about 30,000 elephants per year being killed for their tusks in Africa and just last year, 1,200 rhinos were been killed for their horns in South Africa," said Colby Loucks with the World Wildlife Fund.

The poachers often use the dark of night as a cover. But FLIR Systems in Wilsonville is taking away that cover making it almost impossible for poachers to hide.

"We're using thermal imaging technology which basically builds the image that you’re seeing based on the heat that comes out of every object, person and animal in the world," explained FLIR Systems marketing director Andrew Saxton.

The company is supplying rangers in Kenya with the thermal imaging cameras.

The rangers then use the cameras to find the poachers at night and arrest them.

FLIR Systems has teamed up with the World Wildlife Fund to help protect the animals.

"We have caught over two dozen poachers with the technology and in interviewing them and talking with them after they're caught, they're coming back to us saying, 'How do you see me?'" said Loucks.

Unlike Night Vision, which can only see things at nighttime, the FLIR technology can see people and animals not only in the darkness of night but also during the day.

That means poachers can't even hide behind bushes or in tall grass, a common hiding spot for them.

"It really helps give the rangers and the folks out there a powerful tool," said Saxton, "A sixth sense if you will."

All the FLIR cameras used by the WWF are donated by FLIR Systems.

The FLIR cameras have been so successful stopping poachers in Kenya, the WWF plans to expand the technology into parks across Africa and Asia.

KGW


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