Interest in climate change remediation via alternative energy has yielded an array of worldwide innovations that far surpass what many thought possible mere decades ago. From floating wind farms to solar-powered yachts, these inventions have the capacity to create a ripple effect of change on a global scale.
Due to growing public climate change awareness, many consider global warming the sole driver for alternative energy adoption. Though zero-to-low emissions is certainly a factor, some companies and organizations are seeking more unique outcomes.
A partnership between a Swedish company and a South African College is working to provide electric bikes to facilitate the fight against illegal hunting.
A Life-Saving Partnership
CAKE is a sustainable Swedish company with the "mission to develop the highest performance electric two-wheelers with the mission, to inspire and contribute to accelerating towards the zero-emission society, combing excitement with responsibility."
The company has constructed several models of electric bikes, promising lightweight structures, optimal torque, impressive speed capabilities, and strong battery life.
As of September 2021, CAKE tapped into a new subsector of sustainability - conservation - by partnering with the Southern African Wildlife College to provide electric bikes to anti-poachers.
By late January 2022, the partners surpassed phase one of their plan, including funding and donations, training, real-life trial runs to ensure the bike is capable of its intended use, and monitoring cost savings.
The first phase saw immense success, with ten bikes and their necessary equipment showing efficient use, training, trial runs, and cost management.
Stefan Ytterborn, founder and CEO of CAKE, said, "Offering multiple solutions to general challenges in transportation, our lightweight and silent electric motorcycles have proven to be a winner in areas with sensitive environments and uncertain supply of traditional fuel. Supporting anti-poaching is an amazing example of where our bikes are making a real difference to urgent challenges in our society."
Poaching is the act of illegally hunting wildlife, typically for illicit wildlife trade that can yield hefty sums of money. Though many different animal species are poached, elephants are in high demand. A 2018 study found that an average 40,000 elephants are poached annually, equating to one every 15 minutes.
These numbers are staggering and play a significant role in creating endangered and extinct animal species. Over the past few decades, numerous regulations and advocacy groups have worked to curtail wildlife poaching with some success.
Anti-poaching rangers make it their mission to protect animals from poaching. In some cases, reasoning with poachers is enough.
One source stated, "The interesting thing here is that these guys, the anti-poachers, it's not about busting them and selling them out to the police." Instead, "What they do is that when they're being busted, they actually offer these guys money in exchange for stopping poaching. So, they get a bit of cash to buy food, instead of having to hunt."
Anti-poachers typically use motorized bikes to allow agile motion throughout the South African terrain. That said, a major downside to this mode of transportation is the noise, scaring off animals and potentially alerting poachers of the ranger's presence.
CAKE's Bush Bikes Series operate with impressively low noise output, allowing rangers to conduct business without tipping off poachers. Additionally, the bikes emit far less carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, further assisting in the ranger's goal of wildlife conservation.
Anti-poachers are equipped with two batteries for their electric bikes to switch out as needed, extending their range past the 50-57 miles currently supplied per battery. When it comes time to recharge, rangers can use mobile charging stations or a portable solar charger station.
The partnership demonstrates what can be accomplished with combined resources, even on different continents. The conservation efforts from CAKE and the South African College have seen great success thus far and show potential to truly make a difference for wildlife and climate change remediation.
As the partnership continues, we expect promising results and greater news to come. It certainly has the potential to be picked up by other parts of the world that struggle with illegal hunting.