Google funds anti-rhino-poaching drones

Posted on 10 December 2012

The World Wildlife Fund and Google are teaming up to deploy a fleet of anti-poacher drones to help fight the war against poaching in Africa. According to a report on Mother Jones, Google awarded a five million dollar grant to the WWF to expand their current use of unmanned aerial vehicles to track and deter criminals who illegally hunt endangered animal species around the world.

WWF spokesman Lee Poston said that these drones shouldn’t be confused with the military kind and explains that these are “sophisticated radio-controlled devices like hobbyists use” that can be “controlled from your iPad or other device.”

These drones are light enough to be launched by hand and can be programmed to fly about 18 miles (about 29km) at a maximum elevation of 650 feet (about 198m), for almost an hour. The cameras on the drones allow rangers on the ground to spot would-be poachers, especially in hard-to-reach places.

This method of locating poachers has already been proved successful in Nepal where the WWF deployed similar drones in the national parks there. The Google grant is enabling this programme to be expanded to both Africa and Asia.

Another Google spokesperson, Ian Morrison, said that this grant “is going to have a huge impact. The poachers and the crime syndicates that fund them are getting more and more sophisticated, and it’s time for us to step up our game too, and level the playing field.”

Only recently we reported that SANParks got together with the Ichikowitz Family Foundation to launch The Seeker Sunbird, a new state-of-the-art reconnaissance aircraft, designed for aerial surveillance of rhinos in the Kruger National Park. Read the full report here.

Hopefully, between these two fresh and innovative methods of curbing rhino poachers, we’ll see a change in our national parks.


Related posts

588 rhinos poached this year; 30 new graduated field rangers

Two suspected rhino poachers arrested in Kruger

Six simple ways to help en rhino poaching

South Africa’s poaching problem

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