Recycled smart phones that would have become piles of hazardous e-waste are being made into innovative listening devices to protect the world's most endangered rainforests and animals from illegal loggers and poachers. In the pilot project, these handsets that can be run on solar power will be employed to 40 sq. miles of forests in Cameroon, the natural habitat of elephants, chimpanzees and gorillas. The phones can transmit sounds of poaching and logging activities like the sound of gun shots, logging trucks and chain saws and alert the authorities.
Researchers at London Zoo are in the forefront of this pioneering project, which recycles discarded smart phones. The project , which is a joint venture of the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and Rainforest Connection, would go a long way in protecting remote forests in real-time by ensuring fool proof surveillance mechanism. The technology has also been used in a gibbon sanctuary in Indonesia, to keep loggers and poachers at bay.
The project has two advantages of preventing the environmental pollution caused by discarded phones and protecting the forests from loggers. At present the conservationists use satellite surveillance data to detect logging, which may not be timely and comprehensive enough to ensure timely intervention. Large scale poaching and logging has become one of the top most concerns of conservationist these days. Apart from upsetting the fragile weather patterns and cycles of nature, it could lead to the extinction of many animal species that are native to the tropical forests like the chimpanzees, which are already under the pressure of dwindling natural habitat.
Most of the components of the smartphones are made of materials that could cause environmental degradation if not processed properly. By converting these into solar powered listening devices, smart phones can protect priceless forests and its animal wealth from loggers and poachers. Each phone can protect up to one square mile of rainforest, which can neutralise the effects of 15,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide, which is equal to the emissions of over 3,000 cars into the atmosphere and prevent the green house effect.