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The WWF Is Using Aerial Drones To Track Down Poachers
December 7, 2012
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Poaching is the hunting, killing, or capturing of protected animals, and although it's illegal in most countries, it's still occurring in many places.

This week, four rhinos were killed in the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in Kenya.

And the BBC reports that in the last five years, the number of rhinos killed in South Africa has risen from 13 to 588.

Now the World Wildlife Fund is working on some new technology to help them track and stop poachers, with a little help from Google.

The search engine is providing the WWF with $5 million under their new Global Impact Awards program. The money will go towards technology like aerial surveillance and radio-frequency ID tags to keep an eye on areas where poachers operate and to track animals in their natural environment.

The WWF plans sound ambitious: they want to put sensors on animals and in their environments.

Those sensors would be monitored by aerial drones that will detect poachers and send a message back to mobile ranger patrols, who will then go out into the field and catch them.

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They also plan to test analytical software like the Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool (SMART) to put the data together. The ultimate goal is "to create an efficient, effective network that can be adopted globally."

Right now, the plan is to put the tech in place at four separate sites in Asia and Africa, according to Google.

Carter Roberts, the president of the WWF, said in a statement that the world is facing an unprecedented poaching crisis.

"We need solutions that are as sophisticated as the threats we face," he said. "This pushes the envelope in the fight against wildlife crime."

This is not the only initiative Google is funding. They've also announced that they'll be supporting the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, a mobile payment initiative in Kenya called Give Directly, charity:water, Consortium for the Barcode of Life (an effort to protect endangered species using technology), Equal Opportunity Schools, and DonorsChoose.org.

You can read about all the initiatives here.

Related:

UPDATE: Africa's Western Black Rhino Declared Extinct

Are All Animals Created Equal? A Campaign Against Rhino Poaching Draws A Graphic Comparison

By The Horns: It's Save The Rhino Day

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