WWF to Use Drones to Protect Wildlife from Poachers

by Andrew Johnson

Africa and Asia may see more drones coming their way, but not from an expected source. In its latest effort to combat illegal wildlife trading by monitoring and tracking poachers, the World Wildlife Fund announced plans to deploy a pair of drones in a country in one of those continents by the end of the year. The WWF also plans to deploy drones into a second country in 2014 and in two more by the end of the following year. By having local law enforcement operate the drones, the conservation group hopes that the “eyes in the sky” will “generate a strategic deployment of rangers in the most cost effective way” since rangers in the countries oftentimes lack the resources to “form a shield between animals and poachers.”

Funding for the project comes from a $5 million Google Global Impact Award grant, and the WWF is encouraging governments to contribute to the cause as well; the drones are expected to cost tens of thousands of dollars. This isn’t the first time conservationists have used drone surveillance to combat poaching; they’ve employed the machines to monitor whales off the coasts of Japan, orangutans in Sumatra, and rhinoceroses in Kenya.

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