Transportation in the African bush requires some very specific features. Vehicles need to be durable, reliable and able to handle the diverse terrain. For park rangers responsible for catching and stopping animal poachers, the stakes are even higher. They need transportation that’s also quiet and environmentally friendly. CAKE, a Swedish electric bike company, has delivered on all accounts.
The Kalk AP (anti-poaching) project is a collaboration between CAKE, Goal Zero and the Southern African Wildlife College (SAWC) to find a more efficient and Earth-friendly way to track down poachers in Africa’s National Parks. In the past, rangers used gas-powered motorbikes on the job because they were the fastest and most agile option available. This was not an ideal situation since poachers could easily hear the motorcycles as they approached. Plus, the bikes required refueling, which was provided via helicopter or truck. The entire system was damaging to the very animal habitat the team was working to protect.
The new electric bikes were delivered to South Africa and are currently being tested in the bush by rangers who provide feedback to the SAWC research department. They are comparing the bikes to the existing combustion-engine option and evaluating them on durability and practicality of use.
“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,” said Mfana Xaba, Anti-poaching Team Leader at SAWC.
Kalk AP off-road bikes are recharged in the field with charging stations designed and produced by Goal Zero and placed nearby. Powered by solar panels, the charging stations are always at the ready, without the need to haul in polluting gasoline.
CAKE custom-made the bikes to respond to the challenges of the African bush. They are equipped with off-road features like oversized tires, a lightweight frame, a cargo rack and a heavy-duty suspension. CAKE plans to use the real-world feedback and make required improvements before sending another batch of bikes to the area.
“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 in collaboration with the partners they work with to strengthen their anti-poaching work,” said CAKE’s founder and CEO Stefan Ytterborn.
To raise money for the project, CAKE is offering a buy-one-give-one Limited-Edition Charity Bundle, which offers the first 50 customers the option to buy one Kalk AP at a charity price, while donating another Kalk AP to SAWC. The bundle also comes with a solar-powered charging station and solar cells from Goal Zero. Plus, CAKE and Goal Zero have committed to donating their profits on the bikes and equipment to SAWC and its partners.
Images via CAKE