How HAMS helps tackle wildlife crime
Wildlife crime is a broad term and from many (far too many) conversations over the years it’s clear there’s a lot of healthy and lively debate surrounding the subject.
So, for the moment, let’s put the ethical and moral arguments to one side and let’s start by stating the legal parameters by which we define the term. For that I’m borrowing the Met Police’s definition which seems as good a place to start as any and which includes, in no particular order:
- persecution of badgers, birds and bats
- egg theft and collection
- collection of or trade in protected species and animal products
- not registering animals which require a licence
- taking protected plants
- use of poisons, snares or explosives to kill or injure animals
- animal cruelty
- animal vehicle collision causes the suffering and death of the animal
- hunting with dogs
- introducing invasive species
- killing or capturing, damaging or destroying the habitat of any protected animal
So how can we tackle these issues?
Firstly, we should take some simple administrative steps
In addition to the many wildlife and habitat management benefits of using HAMS the system also helps to tackle wildlife crime through its range of features.
Simply put, by carrying out the proper management of guests, staff and hunting and shooting activities we are taking a huge step towards tackling wildlife crime.
First and foremost we need accurate, factual data and information. This requires us knowing what is happening on our land, where it is happening and when it is supposed to happen.
Let’s have a look at some examples: perhaps you hear a gun report nearby, or a vehicle’s engine, or see people out with dogs in the distance.
How can we differentiate whether it is a poacher or a legal gun?
Simply put, if we can check where shooting and hunting activities are supposed to be taking place on the land we can easily identify whether it is a potential poaching incident or not.
And what if there are hunters on the land completely legally?
With the right tools it is easy to check on a map where legal, organised hunting and shooting activities should be taking place.
Next we can use the data stored in harvest reports.
If the game manager or lessee takes a picture of any harvests (especially if the photo contains geo-location data) we will have accurate information regarding exactly what was harvested and exactly where.
In short, it’s very time consuming to “fake” this information.
What if we see a vehicle on our land?
In HAMS we can easily manage the vehicle information of estate vehicles, lessees and guests.
The licence plate, make and colour information of the vehicle can all be easily stored and accessed by estate managers and gamekeepers.
Observations and sightings
Recording observations and sightings is another easy way of recording and storing information regarding “unidentified” vehicles, traps, sightings, and other signs of poaching and poaching related activities.
Observations and harvest reporting are great tools to record and store information about animal-vehicle collision incidents. This information can also be used to reduce the risk of animal-vehicle collisions in the future.
Additionally, with the help of observations we can easily and accurately record sightings of invasive plants and animals.
Land asset management
By properly administering where we have placed and installed assets, including traps and trailcams, we can prove what we have done and when we did it.
To support the above managers can take a picture of the trap and mark the location on a map by using the geo-location data stored in the image, or simply mark the location manually on the map.
Any complaints regarding the location can be easily resolved by showing these facts to the authorities.
This is useful not just in tackling wildlife crime but also in demonstrably defending our work when attacked by fake anti hunting propaganda.
Trailcams, camera traps
Trailcams are specially treated assets in HAMS, because they are not just “static” assets or objects such as seats or blinds - trailcams are autonomous and active tools and have their own role and purpose in wildlife management and in the fight against poaching.
They can send images directly to HAMS if there is mobile network coverage and the cam is capable of sending images.
Furthermore, motion activated cams can easily take a picture (and notify the land administrator) of any unwanted person, trespasser, poacher appearing in the images.
The game recognition engine of HAMS can recognise and identify humans on the images, the system can then compare this information to the booking information and send an automated warning message to the relevant land managers, gamekeepers.
In addition, by using HAMS we have access to the images in real-time on our computer or phone without the need to go out to the land and download the images from the cam manually on location.
We can also easily identify when a camera stops sending images and needs to be taken care of, or in the case where the camera has been stolen.
By storing the invoice of the camera purchase, or storing its serial number plus the location of the trailcam, just as with any other land assets, we can easily prove who is the rightful owner of a stolen cam.
In the long term, we are planning to create a database of serial numbers of the cameras used in conjunction with HAMS so we can eliminate the second hand market for stolen cameras.
Although not used in every country where HAMS is being used, in many countries, the use of hunting tags is a widely used solution in the fight against poaching of big game.
In some countries, hunting tags are accurately administered, single use plastic stripes with a unique identification number. Typically, these stripes have to be threaded through the hock of the animal, and hunters must record where and how the hunting tags were used.
In those places where hunting tags are used the lack of a tag is a clear indication of poaching and supports local police and other relevant authorities in reducing wildlife crime.
As with so many of the responsibilities we face as habitat and wildlife managers, the proper management and administration of our land has multiple and varied benefits including, as we hope we have demonstrated here, the reduction of wildlife crime.
If you are interested in finding out HAMS can support the work you do whilst lowering costs and reducing admin be sure to speak to one our local representatives whose details can be found here.
As always, we would love to hear from you about our articles so please feel free to comment below or write to us at [email protected]
Photo by Chanita Sykes from Pexels