Anti-poaching patrols get Cake delivery to help protect African wilidlife
Image credit: Cake
The Cake anti-poaching system, including specifically engineered Kalk AP off-road electric motorbikes and mobile solar panel charging power stations, are now on duty in Africa.
Cake, the Swedish electric motorbike manufacturer, has successfully delivered its first batch of electric anti-poaching bush bikes to Africa. The quiet and high-performance Kalk AP motorbikes were delivered to rangers at the Southern African Wildlife College (SAWC), situated adjacent to the Kruger National Park, who are now beginning to use the bikes in their quest to increase the efficiency in combatting poaching.
Poaching has had devastating consequences for wildlife in Africa and is one of the primary reasons that some species face the risk of extinction. Contrary to general perception, one of the principle drivers behind poaching is poverty and the need for food among local inhabitants. Areas with widespread poaching are often large, remote and lacking roads, making patrolling by car virtually impossible.
Anti-poaching teams have typically used gas-powered dirt bikes for patrolling because they are considered the fastest and most agile vehicles in the bush. However, the engines and exhausts of these bikes are loud and the noise alerts poachers from miles away, especially in the still of the night. Another major issue with petrol-driven motorbikes is that the fuel has to be brought out to the field by helicopters or trucks, with negative consequences in terms of pollution.
In collaboration with the SAWC, the team at Cake developed a bike built for the unique challenges of driving in the African bush and the harsh environments it would encounter. The Kalk AP combines the off-road performance ability of the Kalk OR with a lightweight frame, sealed drivetrain and more robust suspension. Since it’s almost silent when running, it’s also easier to move around without alerting poachers. A mobile solar charging station, designed and produced by Goal Zero, allows rangers to take the bikes deep into the bush and operate far from the confines of both the electrical grid as well as traditional fuel supply lines.
Stefan Ytterborn, CEO and founder of Cake, said: “It’s great to see that the first batch of Kalk APs has made it to Africa, ready to change the game when it comes to fighting poaching in the most threatened wildlife areas. With fast, quiet and solar-powered driven bikes, we increase our chances of countering poaching and can truly make an impact in the region. This is only the beginning. We will continue to ship bikes to the SAWC to strengthen their anti-poaching work.”
Mfana Xaba, anti-poaching team leader, SAWC, said: “The petrol bikes we’ve used previously have all been loud, heavy and expensive to keep running in these areas. The Cake bikes are quiet, which makes it easier for us to approach poachers undetected. We hope this collaboration will result in more effective anti-poaching in our region and we are really excited to start using the bikes in the wild.”
The rangers will share their feedback with Cake, identifying pros and cons for constant improvements and tuning until the bikes are optimised for the specific use and environment.
Already one of the most powerful bikes in Cake's catalogue, the Kalk AP is designed specifically for rangers who spend their weeks in the African bush patrolling for poachers and illegal traps. Special features include 18in custom-made 3.5in-thick off-road tyres; drivetrain and suspension with extra sealing against dust; modified suspension for low maintenance, using progressive rear shock and front fork with spring and no air; modified drivetrain software to give additional torque and moderate top speeds while minimising overheating; an additional riding mode for higher top speeds on roads; a rear carrier to attach arms or medical equipment, and fenders made of natural fibre biocomposite material from Trifilon.
The bikes are also outfitted with a powerful, detachable headlight from Silva for effective night-time patrolling. Together with luggage manufacturer DB, Cake has also developed a first-aid kit to be transported on the Kalk AP and used in the field to treat injured animals.
Additional Kalk AP bikes are already on their way to the African bush, courtesy of Cake’s 'buy-one-give-one' program. With a special limited-edition charity bundle, more bikes will be donated to help in the field to save more animals from poaching.
Cake is offering the first 50 customers the option to buy one Kalk AP for themselves at a special bundle charity price, while simultaneously donating another Kalk AP to the Southern African Wildlife College. Included in the donation is the solar-powered charging station and solar cells from Goal Zero.
Cake and Goal Zero will also be donating their profit margins from the sales of the Kalk AP directly to the Southern African Wildlife College, adding financial firepower to the fight against poaching in conservation areas.
To further support and follow the initiative, a line of limited-edition clothing is also being introduced alongside the special bikes, where 5 per cent of net sales will be reinvested to SAWC to accelerate progress.
Cake demonstrated its first electric off-road motorcycle, the Kalk, in January 2018, going on to win the 2019 and 2020 Red Dot Design Award, IF Design Award, Automotive Brand Contest Award and several 'Best in Show' awards. Since that first bike, Cake has released several more highly regarded models, including its lightest model – the Makka e-moped – in September 2021. The company's ethos is pursuant of a zero-emission society, combining both excitement and responsibility in its electric off-road motorcycles.
As part of the SAWC's ‘learning by doing’ curriculum, the college pursues a cycle of innovation and development, addressing current conservation training needs while also shaping the future conservation landscape. The SAWC has recently pioneered and seen great success with the use of free-running pack hounds in the battle against rhinoceros poaching in the Greater Kruger National Park.
Earlier this year, members of the public were encouraged to help conservation efforts by acting as 'virtual rangers' in a pilot surveillance project on a South African wildlife reserve.
Other cutting-edge technologies are also being deployed to more effectively monitor and protect wildlife, such as sensors acting as a polar bear early-warning system in Canada and analysis of satellite images coupled with deep learning to improve the count of animals from endangered species living in complex geographical landscapes.
With COP26 – the critical climate change conference – fast approaching, it would perhaps behove those world leaders attending to heed the results of a large-scale survey carried out by Cambridge University and YouGov earlier this year. The poll of nearly 15,000 people, taken from countries across the globe, found strong support for vastly improved government-led action to mitigate climate change across the Americas, Europe and Asia. The most popular demand for the world's governments was to do more to protect and preserve wildlife, marine life and plants.
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