A system for registration of gunshots on part of the protected area „Vihren“ inside the national park "Pirin"
Major challenges faced by Pirin National Park include illegal hunting and the illegal fishing. Hunting is usually performed by using guns and different types of ammunitions. Often the locals use explosives for fishing in the river basins. To tackle with this problem the administration of the Pirin National Park decided to implement and use a system for registration of gunshots. The system allows the park administration to register in real time any shots or explosions. As of today there are four sensors mounted at controlling points in the “Vihren” park area, which is the most urbanized and the most accessible part of the mountain by potential poachers. In the Vihren’s part of the park is also situated the largest population of wild goats (Rupicapra rupicapra) on the whole Balkan peninsula. There are also populations, although small, of brown bears (Ursus arctos). The implementation of the system for registration of shots will help improve the conservation status of the above mentioned protected animals as well as of other species like the rabbit and the deer, which also populate this particular protected area. The so implemented system allows those officers who sit in the office of the administration, as well as those who are patrolling in the mountain, with access to field information in real time. The system also has functionalities to record other sounds and reproduce the recorded information upon necessity.
A set of 5 sound sensors and a software application, which can cover five areas of concern will cost approximately EUR 10 000. The funds can be provided by the municipal authorities, foreign donors and local stakeholders.
Evidence of success
The system is in a process of implementation by the administration of National Park Pirin. After the start of the system in February 2020 the administration registered almost 100% reduction of hunting activities, which use ammunitions in the area where the gunshot sensors were located. Herds of goats are more often detected by the park staff in the area covered by the system. Photos materials show increased number of animals in the herds.
It was a challenge to select right points to install the sound sensors so that to make it hard for the hunters to dismantle the sensors. Also, recently, it was allowed for the hunters to use gun mufflers, which will make it harder for the system to identify the gunshots in particular cases.
Potential for learning or transfer
The implementation of a gunshot tracking system is a new method to identify illegal hunting activities, which use guns and explosives. The system can be implemented in other areas where it is hard for the security officers to monitor effectively the whole area due to its big size or due to seasonal circumstances as is the case with the mountain areas, which are usually covered by snow during the winter seasons. Based on the effectiveness of the implemented system, the good practice can be recommended to other countries with similar challenges.
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