Instant Detect

Instant Wild Kenya camera trap trial.


Monitoring and protecting wildlife across vast, remote habitats with limited resources and small teams is a huge challenge.

We need to understand wildlife movements and poaching threats in key habitats so we can safeguard these areas. Our teams need affordable, reliable technology to monitor wildlife and help detect illegal poaching before it happens.

A member of ZSL's Conservation Technology Unit installs equipment in Lewa 

Technical Solution

Instant Detect is a wildlife and threat monitoring system designed for the world’s most demanding environments; from the Antarctic to the Saharan Desert. It combines low power sensors, camera traps and acoustic sensors to detect humans and wildlife. Satellite technology sends the data in real-time from virtually anywhere in the world to an intuitive data management tool. 

This allows conservationists to gather data from hard to reach areas so they can monitor wildlife behaviour and changes to their remote habitats. 

Instant Detect is also being used to help tackle the poaching of threatened species by providing an early warning system of illegal activity. Alerts on the movements of poachers are sent to rangers so they can respond to these threats.

Instant Detect 2.0 - Key Features:

  • Satellite connected sensors and cameras send images and alerts in real time
  • Affordable Satellite airtime rates provided by Iridium
  • Clever camouflaging so kit can be hidden from view, making it less susceptible to theft or vandalism
  • A small 1.5m mast covers wide areas where cellular can’t reach or where it is too expensive to deploy and guard
  • Robust design to withstand extreme temperatures and environments
  • Deployment over long periods without requiring servicing
  • Intuitive user interface giving secure access across devices
  • Ability to configure camera and sensor settings remotely
  • Packs into a rucksack, with quick installation and diagnostics
  • Secure encryption keeping data safe and backed up
  • Operates standalone, or can be integrated within complimentary analytics platforms
  • Tactical deployment training available 



Instant Detect was originally developed through the Google Impact Award and was the first of its kind to help strengthen wildlife monitoring and law enforcement. 

Instant Detect has been trialled across seven sites in Canada, Tanzania, Australia, Antarctica, Chagos and Kenya, where it has safeguarded coral reefs, protected bird nests, guided eco-tours and helped protect threatened species. Successful deployments include remote monitoring of an Adélie penguin colony in Antarctica.

Penguin colony being monitored by a camera trap

ZSL partnered with the Kenya Wildlife Service to deploy Instant Detect in a key Black Rhino sanctuary, where we trained rangers how to use technology and make tactical deployments to tackle poaching of rhinos and elephants.

Instant Detect has gone on to win prestigious innovation awards from the Nominet Trust and USAID’s Wildlife Crime Technology Challenge. 

Our ultimate goal is for the ID system to dramatically improve the efficiency of remote wildlife monitoring and significantly contribute to a reduction in wildlife poaching by increasing intelligence on the movement of poachers.


What’s Next?

Instant Detect 1.0 has provided valuable learnings and proven the need for the technology. In 2016 ZSL secured new funding to upgrade the technology and is working with world class technical partners and field experts to deliver Instant Detect 2.0. We’ve completed significant research and development, and field testing has been completed to ensure the second generation technology is more affordable, lasts longer, covers wider areas and is easy to maintain.  

The new design will also be a modular system that can integrate new sensing devices. We welcome new technical partners to create and test sensors that have potential to accelerate wildlife monitoring and protection. We have teamed up with Innovate UK Things Connected to create a testing hub within the Zoo using Digital Catapult’s Low Power Wide Area Radio Network and in 2018 we will be opening a new technology laboratory to create permanent space for these collaborations.

If you are a sensor developer and have an idea or a sensor you think could help our mission, please contact

Project Information

People Involved

  • Sophie Maxwell, Conservation Technology Lead
  • Sam Seccombe, Technical Field Specialist
  • Alasdair Davies, Senior Technical Specialist
  • Peter Foster, Creative Software Engineer

General enquiry:

Partners and Supporters

  • Nominet UK
  • Iridium
  • USAID Wildlife Crime Tech Challenge 
  • Players of People’s Postcode Lottery