School of Engineering and Digital Arts

Research by EDA and the School of Anthropology and Conservation at Kent is featured in 'The Economist'

Published: 23/10/2017

Research by the School of Engineering and Digital Arts and the School of Anthropology and Conservation at the University of Kent is featured in 'The Economist' about 'the loneliest plant on earth' in the quest to protect South Africa's rare spiky palm trees, known as cycads

South Africa's cycads, most of which are found nowhere else in the world, are threatened, despite laws regulation the trade in them.  Unlike other endangered species such as rhinos, the plight of the cycad has drawn relatively little attention. 

To prevent theft, plants have been fitted with microchips but poachers have been using X-ray scanners to find them and hack them out.  Rare cycads are now sprayed with microdot paint that leaves invisible, individualised markers of a plant's provenance.  Researchers from EDA and SAC at Kent are testing radio frequency identification tags on cycads that could relay alerts and GPS co-ordinates. 

School of Engineering and Digital Arts, Jennison Building, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NT

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Last Updated: 30/08/2017