Poaching the poachers with Geospatial Intelligence

Rhino Poaching In Assam: The Burning Problem

Assam takes great pride in conservation of the one-horned rhinoceros as it serves home to two-third of this wild population. It also serves as the state emblem of Assam. The one-horned rhino is one of the five species hornsof rhino left in the world. But are they safe enough? The answer is NO. They are the most endangered species who are constantly targeted for the horns that Mother Nature has gifted them with. There is a mistaken idea that prevails in China and Vietnam is “consuming the horn of a rhino increases male virility”. This has given high demand for rhino horns in international illegal market thereby increasing poaching incidents. A large number of this species have already lost their life to the hands of poachers and this is not the end, the brutal killing is still prevalent which has brought the species on the brink of extinction.

Let us see what the statistics say

In India the one-horned rhinos are majorly found in Assam at Kaziranga National Park, Manas National Park, Orang National Park, Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary and Laokhowa Wildlife Sanctuary, covering an area of around 1100 square kilometres of which the maximum number of this wild species is found in Kaziranga National Park alone. The poaching statistics for the past years in Kaziranga is really a matter of concern.

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What needs to be done?

The power of Geospatial Intelligence

Geospatial Intelligence popularly known as GEOINT is the intelligence discipline comprising the study of human activity on earth derived from the exploitation and analysis of imagery and geospatial information that describes, assesses and virtually depicts physical features and geographically referenced activities on the Earth. GEOINT consists of imagery, imagery intelligence and geospatial information.

Generally, geospatial intelligence can be more readily be defined as, data, information and knowledge gathered about entities that can be referenced to a particular location on, above, or below the earth’s surface. The intelligence gathering method can include imagery, signals, measurements and signatures, and human sources, i.e., IMINT, SIGINT, MASINT, and HUMINT, as long as a geo-location can be associated with the intelligence.

It has been suggested that GEOINT is just a new term used to identify a broad range of outputs from intelligence organizations that use a variety of existing spatial skills and disciplines including photogrammetry, cartography, imagery analysis, remote sensing, and terrain analysis. However, GEOINT is more than the sum of these parts. Spatial thinking as applied in Geospatial Intelligence can synthesize any intelligence or other data that can be conceptualized in a geographic spatial context. Geospatial Intelligence can be derived entirely independent of any satellite or aerial imagery and can be clearly differentiated from IMINT (imagery intelligence).

Integrating GIS and Geospatial Intelligence

Geographical Information Systems (GIS) play a constantly evolving role in geospatial intelligence (GEOINT). These technologies allow a user to efficiently manage, analyse, and produce geospatial data, to combine GEOINT with other forms of intelligence collection, and to perform highly developed analysis and visual production of geospatial data. Therefore, GIS produces up-to-date and more reliable GEOINT to reduce uncertainty for a decision maker. Since GIS programs are Web-enabled, a user can constantly work with a decision maker to solve their GEOINT and security related problems from anywhere in the world.

Counter-Striking the Poachers

There are many types of GIS software used in GEOINT and national security, such as Google Earth, ERDAS IMAGINE, Geo-Network open-source, and Esri ArcGIS.

Similarly, a GIS enabled application can be made with the integration of GEOINT that will not only monitor the illegal human activities in the vicinity of the forests but also take appropriate and quick actions to deal with them.


The one-horned rhinos faced the worst poaching in decades. We need to tackle this issue from all sides, including co-operation, assistance and training from law enforcement, military, and judiciary agencies and greater assistance in developing new tools and technologies to detect and intercept rhino poachers and horn traffickers. Poaching the rhinos and illegal trafficking of the horns have flourished as a commercial business that needs to be addressed immediately, or else the day is not very far when we will be telling stories that the pride of India and Assam, the one-horned rhinoceros once used to roam in the forests of the Brahmaputra Valley.


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