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Are Drones Really Helping to Save Rhinos and Elephants from Poachers?

As drones hit the sky in countries like Nepal, Mozambique, and South Africa, experts are wondering: Will it matter?
Jason Koebler
Κείμενο Jason Koebler
8.5.13

Image: Sandra Fenley/Wikimedia

In recent months, wildlife-preservation agencies, park rangers, and, in some cases, national armies have turned to unmanned aircraft to help them find increasingly sophisticated wildlife traffickers. But as drones hit the skies in countries like Nepal, Mozambique, and South Africa, experts are wondering: Will it matter?

Tuesday, at an event discussing drones in Washington, DC, World Wildlife Fund President Carter Roberts discussed some of the challenges countries trying to combat poachers are facing.

"The bad guys are extremely sophisticated, they have night-vision goggles, helicopters, plenty of funding and resources," he said. "We need to up our game to combat what they're doing."

A big part of that strategy is enhanced technology. As UAVs have become cheaper and more capable, conservationists have decided it's time to bring on the drones. Last year, Google awarded the WWF a $5 million grant to expand its drone program, which is already operating in Nepal.

But better technology hasn't always led to a decline in poaching, as Roberts explained Tuesday. Better technology sometimes just means sinking a lot of money into ineffective tactics.

Read the rest over at the new Motherboard.VICE.com.