Raytec IR Illuminator Spotlights on UK National Park Wild Bats

In possibly the world's most remote installation, Raytec IR illuminators have been deployed deep in the remote bat caves of the Mulu National Park, Borneo, in a specialist ecosurveillance project directed by Charles Tomas, CEO and Principal Security Advisor of CTG Security Matrix.

The IR lights capture high-quality images of the jungle wildlife in absolute darkness in the network of underwater chambers, providing covert surveillance without disturbing the unspoilt habitat. The images are then transmitted to a visitor information center, located three kilometers from the caves with fiber-optic cabling linking the two sites across the most challenging jungle terrain. The surveillance system, built and installed by Australian Integrated Security, demanded the high performance and rugged equipment to deliver premium image quality within such a harsh environment.

The IR lights, have to stand up to some of the toughest conditions found anywhere in the world including high humidity up to 99 percent, average temperatures of 30 degrees and corrosive droppings from the millions of bats inhabiting the caves. The nature of all Raytec illuminators made them the choice for such a demanding project.

The caves are so isolated that they can only be reached by a 35-minute plane trip from the nearest settlement, or a day-long river journey. The treacherous installation aided by the Tribesmen of the National Park, required technicians to brave jungle conditions, raft equipment down rivers and hoist it across perilous ravines, while swimming through snake infested waters daily just to access the site.

Following on from the previous success of a similar surveillance ecoproject by CTG in 2007, where Raytec IR was deployed in the Naracoorte bat caves in South Australia, the Mulu National Park bat caves project in Borneo has proven one of the most challenging remote surveillance installations ever attempted and took two-and-a-half years from concept to completion.

Prior to the installation all the equipment was tested for its robustness and performance. In comparison to Raytec, alternative hardware had proved disappointing when tested, highlighting the many challenges of filming small, fast moving targets in zero light conditions, such as bats and other creatures. CTG turned to specialist suppliers, including global lighting leader Raytec and achieved amazing results with crystal clear full screen real-time images of objects no bigger than a tennis ball from a distance typically 120 meters away under pitch black conditions.

“With the system up and running it is now delivering real time video and audio with spectacular clarity,” said Charles Tomas, CEO of CTG. “The fact that Raytec's LED-based illuminators require zero maintenance and have a 10-year minimum product life means that they can be relied on to continue delivering exceptional images, making this project possible.”
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