Watch the video, or read more in this video transcript:

Welcome, I am Tricia Manning-Smith and I am Rick Price.

Did you know that the world is at a critical crossroads right now as we speak? Two iconic species, the wild African Elephants and the Rhinos are critically endangered and because of rural poverty in Southern Africa, poachers are killing an alarming number of those animals every year. And unless people do something about it, the elephants, the rhinos are going to be gone forever. But hard work, drones, big data and creative thinking are making a dent in poverty-driven poaching and saving wild African Elephants and Rhinos while improving the lives of the people who live near the animals. Here is a look.

ERP video with Jonathan Tager: Elephants and Rhinos are being killed every single day. An elephant every 15 minutes and a rhino three times a day. So if you can create a place of safety, that’s what we've got to be striving for. We are called Elephants, Rhinos & People (ERP), because we protect elephants and rhinos in the wild, but we adopt a somewhat unconventional approach to doing that. The route of the problem is poverty. The people executing the poaching to sell horns and tusks are poor people with few other choices in order to survive and if we can make it in their best interests economically to protect elephants and rhinos, they will do that more effectively than anybody else can.

In order to help these animals we needed help in the form of technology and the obvious technology partner for us was SAP. That ERP Air Force is powered by SAP technology. We have internet-of-things devices generating data, moving through SAP interface, through SAP-based applications, into the SAP HANA database.

We are able to monitor elephants and rhinos with satellite tracking technologies, and where we have a drone presence we reduced poaching to literally zero. We are firmly committed to what we are doing with ERP, and with SAP, we can do it even better.

Tricia Manning-Smith: Joining me now is Quintin Smith, a partner in and a Director of Elephants Rhinos & People. Thank you so much for travelling all this way to join us. I'm super excited that you brought some show and tell.

Quintin Smith: Thank you for having me.You are welcome.

Tricia Manning-Smith: And this thing has a story behind it Mr Smith. What's going on with this?

Quintin Smith: I can tell you exactly what this is. And this is actually lighter than the real McCoy  because I had to bring it here all the way from South Africa. But what this is, is a GPS collar that we use to fit on elephants. So we put it around their necks and we put a weight at the bottom, so this actually extends and goes around the neck and it's pretty heavy, but if you do the math based on what this weighs and what a typical elephant would weigh, which is about 6 tons (the ladies weigh a little bit less), then it kind of equates to about a watch. And this is what we use to track the elephants.

Tricia Manning-Smith: Okay and what is in here? What is inside this little magic box?

Quintin Smith: So what makes it special, what makes it so heavy is there is a GPS tracker in it, you know, GPS trackers you find in phones are very small and really light. What actually gives this all the weight is the battery. So it's quite an operation to fit this on an elephant as you can imagine. You know, with helicopters, we need to dart them, and to fit this and these batteries last up to two years, so you know we don't want to replace the batteries... if you ask the elephants can we can replace the battery quickly, they are not so polite about it.

Tricia Manning-Smith: I am sure that’s an understatement. So this is a GPS system in there and we know that that's is a tracker. So this is where SAP comes into it, so bring that connection together from here, to up in the cloud, and back down on the ground.

Quintin Smith: That is exactly right. So we use this, and the data, the GPS data goes into the cloud and with SAP Cloud integration we bring it down to our HANA database. From the HANA database we have the SAP Cloud platform and we use the Fiori framework on that as well as some Java service, and we've built an application that is called ‘Find my Elephants’. So clearly done by engineers and not by marketeers! And we use that to track the elephants, and we can see exactly when they are in danger zones or close to fences where they can be in danger, and then we would deploy our ERP Air Force or even send out a ground crew to go and take care of them and make sure they are safe.

Tricia Manning-Smith: Do you have an app that you can bring up and show us?

Quintin Smith: I do have the app in my pocket.

Tricia Manning-Smith: Oh my goodness so he just happened to have it on him. So what we are going to see here is in the moment, right now, we’re going to see where elephants are in South Africa?

Quintin Smith: That is exactly right. So I can actually show you. That’s where we are right now, and here you can see if you actually zoom in you can see some of the elephants locations where we track the. And depending on the settings we track their location once an hour and bring that up, so we can see exactly where they are.

Tricia Manning-Smith: And then, what happens with this information? What do you use it for?

Quintin Smith: Well so for the most part we just keep an eye on them and we see where they are so we can send out if they are in dangerous areas and what we ultimately like to do, is of course use this data with SAP Leonardo and do some predictive analytics and you know HANA has some incredible HANA spatial applications we can use. So that’s kind of where we want to go and we are really excited about it.

Tricia Manning-Smith: Okay, so this all the super cool stuff, what do you envision? How is that all going to come together with Leonardo and what difference will it make for the elephants and their lives?

Quintin Smith: I mean what we have been able to accomplish has really been incredible. I mean in the areas where we have this, with the drone surveillance programs, we have reduced poaching or eliminated it; in that specific area there is zero poaching. So the challenge with that is of course is scalability, there are many elephants and many rhinos, so to be able to really expand this and to make it bigger we kind of need to do two things.

The first one that takes a lot of manpower is monitoring. So someone needs to look at the screen of the drone footage. So there is a lot we can do there in terms of pattern recognition and analytics, but that means real time and of course HANA can do that. So that’s very exciting for us as a next step.

The other thing that also takes a lot of manpower, is the actual flying. You need a skilled pilot to do that. So we are right now enhancing our Fiori app that we can actually, you know, plot a little map and say this is the flight path of the drone and hit flight. So it would be cool if you and I sat here and I said look here, launch drones in South Africa and we can see the footage here real time. So that is where we really want to go.

Tricia Manning-Smith:  And then ultimately your rangers can go out to the site. They can either herd the elephants or rhinos out of danger or they can take action against the poachers and in fact that happened in the past, tell me about that please.

Quintin Smith: So with the drone footage we fly missions at night, we fly what we call a ‘dirty mission’, and that is where we you know, put on its lights and make as much noise as we can. It's kind of like putting a ‘beware of the dog’ sign on the fence you know, to make people aware that we are protecting the animals there. In some cases we have found with the footage infrared, that you can clearly see there are humans there that are not supposed to be there, so you know, sometimes these are completely innocent people collecting wood or something like that. We have also found poachers that disguise themselves as wood collectors, so through that process we have managed to alert the authorities and get the people away.

Tricia Manning-Smith:  And actually get somebody adjudicated into court and hold people accountable?

Quintin Smith: We have done that, yes.

Tricia Manning-Smith: Okay, so we know that its Elephants and Rhinos but the third key element is People in the organisation. Let’s talk about people alleviating poverty, it’s so important and that's the root cause of this?

Quintin Smith: So yeah you know, the whole strategy behind ERP is Elephants Rhinos & People is actually poverty alleviation, so it's the conservation of elephants and rhinos through the alleviation of poverty. Right so, what we would like to do is enable communities to have alternate economic engines so that they don’t have to revert to the brutal act of poaching, and that is of course the medium to long term payoff, and for the short term we have tactical interventions like the drone program, the GPS and elephant relocations, but the poverty alleviation is really what we are driving in parallel to get a longer term impact.

Tricia Manning-Smith:  Okay, so let’s take a look here, let's open the next gift that you have brought, and this comes to the heart of poverty alleviation, it's giving people meaningful work, giving them a job, and this is a beautiful way to bring together poverty alleviation in a way that also helps the elephants and it’s brilliant. Let’s hear it.

Quintin Smith: I know you like the story, so I will unveil it. So this is honey. Of all things. So I think common wisdom would make you believe that elephants are actually afraid of mice, that’s not really the case. Actually, they are afraid of bees. And it is the smallest little thing and you would say, well why?

Tricia Manning-Smith: Wait, from honey bees?

Quintin Smith: Yeah, honey bees, and the reason for it is that the bees can actually sting them in their trunks and can cause mortality, so they are extremely afraid of bees.

Tricia Manning-Smith: So the bees fly up inside the elephant's trunk and sting them?

Quintin Smith: Exactly right. I mean if you have a nose that long you should watch out for bees. So we have a rural community in one part of South Africa where the elephants were just marauding through the crops, and there was some serious human/elephant conflict because these elephants are now interfering with their livelihood. So we intervened there, and what we set up was a beehive fence or a bee-line fence, and what is basically is, is we take beehives and distribute them several hundred feet apart and we connect them with a tripwire. And then as soon as the elephants just touch the tripwire, the bees go berserk and the elephants flee, and you know we have put that up and there has never been an issue, between this community and the elephants.

And on top of that, this community is now harvesting the honey and selling it, generating an income. And this honey comes from one of those beehives. Which is all the way from South Africa and a gift for you.

Tricia Manning-Smith: A gift, ah thank you. This is just brilliant, it’s nature working to help nature and people, and it brings them in instead of isolating them, brings them together in a way that people are actually able to profit and sustain themselves.

Quintin Smith: Absolutely, and ultimately, conserve elephants and rhinos.

Tricia Manning-Smith: And speaking of elephants and rhinos, you win the cute factor here. 

Quintin Smith: They say don’t trust Greek bearing gifts, but I am not Greek so here are some more gifts, so I thought I would leave you with a little soft toy of elephants and rhinos. There is also a hidden message in that, and that’s why we do what we do. We don’t want our children and grandchildren to remember elephants and rhinos by books and soft toys, so if things continue at the rate they do, we will not have any rhinos left, you know in less than a decade.

So that’s why we committed to it and why we enlisted SAP’s help and are very grateful for it.

Tricia Manning-Smith: Quintin, thank you so much, this is truly one of the coolest stories we have ever been privileged to tell. All and all a very exciting day here at Sapphire NOW in Orlando. Filled with visionaries, intelligent enterprises, hot news and hey, even large mammals, Elephants, Rhinos & People. 

Wild elephants and rhinos are critically endangered, and poachers are killing these animals every day. In this fascinating interview from SAPPHIRE NOW, learn all about the ERP programme, ERP Air Force, and why elephants are scared of bees.

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