How drones are being used to save rhinos

Sinead Moore
nature wildlife and the environment 2colorhorizontalexteriorcenterwildlifeanimalrhinolonelinessdaysunnyrhinocerosmam
nature wildlife and the environment 2colorhorizontalexteriorcenterwildlifeanimalrhinolonelinessdaysunnyrhinocerosmam



The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has launched a project to help protect wildlife - in particular the endangered rhino - by using drones.

The Metro reports that drones are being used across Africa to help protect some of the world's most endangered animals, particularly rhinos and elephants.

"Rhinos are on the absolute precipice," says Steve Roest, head of the ShadowView Foundation, an organisation that provides unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or drones, for conservation and humanitarian relief operations.

They cover large areas of land that rangers cannot manage on foot. They monitor poaching and also record the animals' movements and document evidence.

A full system can cost between £11,000 and £23,000, reports the Metro.

These UAVs are not the same as the controversial military drones but have similar technologies and designs. They are quiet and fly high above the ground to avoid disturbing the animals.

Speaking to IBTimes UK, Max Graham, founder and CEO of the international conservation charity Space for Giants, said that it may be too early to tell if the drones can help stamp out poaching for good. "The technology is very new and its application is very much in its infancy," he said. Yet so far, the small, remote-controlled planes have proved to be a great asset in a country which faces a grave poaching threat.

The illegal wildlife trade is the fifth largest illicit trade in the world, estimated at £12bn a year, according to the WWF.

Last year, 1,004 rhinos were killed by poachers.

Crawford Allan, head of the Wildlife Crime Technology Project at the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) said "Technology's just one of many tools to fight poaching."

"Fighting extremely well-organised and ruthless poachers backed by powerful syndicates requires excellent collaboration, preparation and training. It's a huge tool in our arsenal to help protect endangered species like elephants, rhinos and other wildlife."

Drones are also being used in Europe to monitor monitor large areas of the Mediterranean Sea looking for fishing boats illegally using driftnets that indiscriminately kill marine wildlife.

"The investigating of fishing crime is in the hands of the official authorities," said Wietse van der Werf, founder of The Black Fish conversation group.

"Unfortunately, in different areas around the Mediterranean, corruption is widespread and enforcement rare. With dwindling fish populations and increased threats to the marine environment, we feel compelled to act. People power combined with technological innovation is making revolutionary changes."

Unfortunately, there are problems involved with putting flying drones in the sky.

"There's a concern about air traffic accidents and collisions," said Roest.

Roest believes these drones have great potential to do good.

What do you think? Let us know below


Related stories


Ivory poachers jailed for killing 81 elephants in national park

British woman arrested in Spain over theft of rhino horns at museum

Campaigners trying to save 'world's saddest elephant' from Romanian zoo

Animal rights outcry as endangered elephants used as 'bulldozers' in India