[ Project Watch ]

On a photo safari in Africa? Turn off geotagging.

Tracking technologies can do so much good for endangered species. And a lot that’s not so good.

According to a story on Quartz, tech-savvy poachers are using geotagging data from tourist photos posted on social media sites to locate endangered rhinos and other animals. As a result, some African wildlife reserves have posted signs asking visitors to turn off the geotagging function on their smartphones and digital cameras. They also ask that visitors, when posting their photos, not reveal the location where the photos were taken.

geotag_sign

For those of you who’ve never looked at the geotags attached to your photos, here’s how specific that data is:

Geotagging data from a photograph by Jan Joubert. By Image: User:NandhpImage:Jan Joubert's Gat Bridge.jpg: Flickr user DanieVDM, [1]gThumb: Copyright © 2001-2006 Free Software Foundation, Inc.Human theme: Canonical Ltd. (Own work) [GPL, GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Geotagging data from a photograph by Jan Joubert. 

This data definitely pinpoints the location where the photo was taken. Odds are you don’t need or want that information, but poachers do. So turn off geotagging before you start taking photographs of endangered animals in the wild, and don’t reveal exactly where you took them, on social media or anywhere else online. Mum’s the word.

Photo credit: By Image: User:NandhpImage:Jan Joubert’s Gat Bridge.jpg: Flickr user DanieVDM, [1]gThumb: Copyright © 2001-2006 Free Software Foundation, Inc.Human theme: Canonical Ltd. (Own work) [GPL, GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons