FLIR Infrared Technology

FLIR thermal sensing infrared technology provides imaging data that can capture the movements of poachers at any time of the day, including at night. One of the major drawbacks of standard image monitoring technologies is their inability to accurately detect and capture poachers and related suspicious activity inconspicuously at nighttime, due to lack of light. Instead, FLIR detects a narrow sliver of heat on the electro-magnetic spectrum, meaning any living object appears as a mobile grey or white blob (depending on heat content) on a remote screen or viewfinder. Detection can occur in hazy or smoky conditions, and have up to a mile of range. While thermal imaging technology has been around for decades, it is now more accessible than ever. In 2016, FLIR provided their WWF partners at Kenya’s Maasai Mara Conservancy with handheld rangefinder, stationary cameras, as well as mobile units mounted onto patrol vehicles to be deployed in poaching hotspots. The imaging technology is not sensitive enough to differentiate human movement from that of animals, and had to work in conjunction with a machine learning algorithm to alert rangers of human movement. After the successful capture of two poachers attempting to jump the conservancy’s fence to attack a rhino, word spread amongst the poaching community, and the area did not see any suspicious activities for months following the incident. FLIR is currently exploring its options with drones in Malawi and Zimbabwe, which would establish thermal imaging as a viable technology on the ground (and in the air) in the fight against illegal poaching.  

Farrell, P. (2016, November 22). “Watch Wildlife Rangers Nab Poachers With Thermal Imaging“.


Biodiversity, Illegal Resource Extraction, Monitoring, Visual Technologies