KRUGER NATIONAL PARK- Rhino poachers in South Africa now risk giving themselves away when they shoot thanks to a high-tech, gunfire-detection system being piloted in the country’s flagship Kruger National Park.

The stakes are high, for rhinos are being slain in escalating numbers for their prized horns, alarming both conservationists and the government since wildlife in South Africa is an important tourist draw.

‘ShotSpotter’, a product of privately-held California company SST Inc, has previously been used in crime-ridden urban U.S. neighbourhoods to alert police to weapons fire. In South Africa it has already yielded the arrests of an undisclosed number of poachers, earlier this year.

The matter is before the courts and park officials are reluctant to divulge details, saying it could possibly expose the location of the ShotSpotter array to other poachers.

‘This is my 14th war and the one I am determined to win,’ said Otch Otto, a former soldier and U.N. peacekeeper who is now using his combat skills as Kruger’s joint operations manager in the poaching front lines.

As part of a pilot project, microphones have been planted in undisclosed areas of vast Kruger Park, the size of Israel. When a shot is fired the origin of the sound is triangulated and sent to the service provider in the United States. Coordinates are then relayed to a Kruger operations centre within 30 seconds, making it possible to deploy rangers and helicopters with precision.