Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) purchased the about 8 million U.S. dollar encrypted radios from France, which will be used in the country’s eight national parks.
“The network is superior, fulfills the most advanced professional mobile radio requirements, and ensures secure communication between fixed, mobile and portable radios,” said Olivier Picard, head of Ellipse Projects—the firm that sold the equipment.
Picard said the radio network provides a dedicated set of microwave/Ultra High Frequency links to allow communication between different parks and the KWS headquarters located in Nairobi.
KWS expects the system to be effective in combating poaching, protecting tourists and generally improve radio communication within the Service.
Currently, KWS utilizes an analogue, two-way radio network, which operates on a Very High Frequency band used for communicating around and within the national park gates, patrol teams, between vehicles and other KWS stations.
This system, Picard said, is outdated as it is analogue.
The system has no encryption, suffers from poor speech quality and is only limited to transmitting sound.
The new radio network will initially cover three of KWS eight conservation areas namely; Tsavo, Southern and Central Rift.
KWS Director-General William Kiprono said the radio upgrade will greatly improve effectiveness of the radio system that is widely used for communication within the various parks of KWS in management of park operations and security.
He said the upgrade will also see an improvement in various security protocols that will be introduced in the new system.
It will also allow for remote administration of radio handsets so that should they fall in the wrong hands, they may be remotely disabled.
The project also has a component for solar power, which will be installed within three conservation areas as well as other identified strategic locations within the various KWS stations.
Wildlife conservationists have decried the entry of organized crime syndicates into the illegal wildlife trade, most notably of rhino horn and elephant ivory, which they said, has created a crisis situation in many African countries.
The killing of elephants, rhinos and other wildlife species is having a huge impact on tourism sectors of countries such as Kenya, and the authorities have stepped up surveillance on traffickers of ivory.