Project Details

Elephant in the wild

Instant Detect

Remotely monitoring wildlife through satellite-enabled cameras


Project URL:
Project Twitter: @zslconservation

Organisation URL:

  • Community Engagement
  • Environment & Sustainability
  • Audiovisual
  • Geolocation
  • Physical Computing

Instant Detect is an advanced camera trap and sensor system designed to remotely monitor wildlife populations, as well as provide a security network to support anti-poaching efforts in protected areas. The Zoological Society of London (ZSL) developed Instant Detect with funding from Google’s Global Impact Award, which it won in 2013.

The system has been used in Antarctica to monitor an Adélie penguin population, and in Kenya in collaboration with the Kenya Wildlife Service to tackle rhino poaching.

Traditional camera traps rely on images being saved to SD cards, which then need to be regularly collected from the field, or cellular networks which require sufficient mobile coverage to enable remote upload. Neither of these systems are ideal for use in remote, often quite inaccessible locations with limited or no connectivity.

ZSL’s Instant Detect was developed in collaboration with Cambridge Consultants as system developer, Iridium Communications, Seven Technologies Group and Wireless Innovation Ltd to overcome these issues. The system includes integrated ground sensing technologies to enhance usability against poachers. Images and alarm activations are transmitted via satellite in near real time, providing users with timely, actionable data that can allow local teams to intercept poachers before they inflict any damage.

You too can get involved. ZSL’s Instant Wild iPhone app and website feeds users live pictures from camera traps around the world, enabling crowdsourcing of wildlife identifications, which in turn saves time for ZSL’s conservation teams. More information on the app is available at, and you can donate to keep the cameras live through the same page.

Image courtesy of ZSL

Last updated: 23rd of August, 2015

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