UK & World News

  • 6 December 2012, 12:20

Rhino Drones: Google Backs Poacher Surveillance

Google is putting up $5m (3.1m) to help keep an eye on poachers trying to hunt rhinos.

The internet giant has donated the funds to the World Wildlife Fund to increase its fleet of unmanned surveillance drones.

The WWF has already been using drones in Nepal where they act as "eyes in the skies" in remote regions for park rangers hunting for poachers, according to Mother Jones.

With the new injection of cash the organisation will be able to expand its programme into Asia and Africa to help protect not only rhinos but elephants and tigers.

Rhinos are highly desired for their horns, the elephants for their tusks and the tigers for everything from their eyes to their reproductive organs.

Animal parts are prized among some societies as having mysterious powers which, they believe, can help men with sexual dysfunction.

Demand for the animal parts for medicine cures has always been present but the rewards for poachers have grown so dramatically that rhinos risk being extinct within 10 years unless poaching is stopped, WWF said.

Poaching of rhinos and elephants has risen so sharply in Africa that the fate of the species is now at risk. Tens of thousands of elephants and at least 588 rhinos were killed in 2012.

The charity hopes the increased use of drones will help in its efforts to stop illegal trading as the drones will help spot poachers in places where they would not usually be caught.

The machines - with cameras attached - can be launched by hand and programmed to fly about 18 miles for up to 650ft for almost an hour allowing rangers to monitor from the ground.

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