Smart Parks uses smart sensor technologies to improve nature conservation and management. In 2019, Nationaal Park Zuid-Kennemerland established Europeans first Smart Parks network in the dunes of Kraansvlak, where bison, Scottish highland cattle, konik horses, fallow deer and roe deer roam freely.
New technologies, such as wireless network LoRaWAN® and GPS-sensor technologies, have led to tracking systems with lower power consumption and thus longer battery life. This makes the sensors especially suitable for tracking wildlife by minimizing intervention and their disturbance. After the establishment of a local LoRaWAN®-network, Scottish highland cattle were tagged with new GPS-LoRaWAN® collars to test the suitability of this technology in real life. Initial analyses by Utrecht University students of the accuracy and viability of these new sensors suggested that they are a promising replacement for the older tracking systems.
Joris Cromsigt (Associate Professor, UU): “These new collars have the potential to revolutionize our understanding of animal movement and behaviour, as they should enable us to follow individuals for a much longer period of time, but also to track many more individuals compared to the traditional GPS collars. With this initiative, we now also hope to further develop the technology to track interactions between wildlife and humans.”
The technology offers important applications to minimize human-wildlife conflicts in an increasingly densely populated world. In Africa the sensors have proven their value in detecting and reducing poaching activities. In the Netherlands new insights can help us to improve the coexistence of humans and wildlife on such a small piece of land. This is a theme of increasing importance with the comeback of wildlife species such as the European bison, wolf and golden jackal.
In addition to being more efficient in energy use and having a much lower price, the Smart Parks system offers the possibility to collect more information about these animals by adding extra sensors like temperature-sensors, sound-sensors and activity-sensors.
The positions of the new collar will soon be available for visitors at wisenten.nl/en/where-are-they. This increases the chance of spotting the herd from the Bison trail or other recommended places around the bison area in Kraansvlak.