Poachers, Beware: Google Funds Drones to Protect Endangered Species

By Rachel Ramsey December 06, 2012

From killer whales to the Puma mountain lion, there are many endangered species worldwide that numerous organizations have put in efforts in order to preserve. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is one of the world’s top conservation organizations, working in 100 countries and supported by close to five million members globally. Tech giant Google is also contributing to the preservation of these species, giving the WWF $5 million to put drones in the sky to protect endangered species from poachers.

The money will also cover software that will be able to map out where poachers strike most. The funding from Google will allow the WWF to extend drone use to Africa and Asia to try and catch poachers going after rhinos, which are desired for their horns; elephants, which are desired for their tusks; tigers, which are wanted for everything from their eyes to their reproductive organs; and other endangered species. 

Image via SlashGear

The WWF has been facing a serious increase in attacks on these animals, as the number of rhinos killed in South Africa rose from 13 to 358 in five years.

Carter Roberts, WWF president, said, “We need solutions that are as sophisticated as the threats we face.”

Controlled via a tablet computer, the drones will photograph poachers and track animals via smart radio tags.

The WWF has already been flying routes in Nepal with the drones, which can fly around for up to an hour and use the on-board cameras to detect suspicious behavior. The drones will act as supplements to the park rangers who are already on the hunt for poachers, and the drones will serve as “eyes in the skies” in remote regions. 

Though drones in this situation are used for a good purpose, drones also introduce a new era of technological warfare, and not everyone is happy about it. The U.S. is looking to lower the cost of war, including lives lost, by implementing drone aircraft to spy on and attack terrorists. Drones are believed to reduce the number of lives lost by taking humans out of the equation and out of harm’s way. However, questions of accountability have been raised about the White House, the government’s military action and the basic dimensions of the wars America is involved in.

This is not the only good deed seen by Google. It recently announced $23 million in grants to spur innovation among charities and increase education for girls and minority students in science and technology. The WWF received part of this sum. Additional grantees include GiveDirectly, Equal Opportunity Schools and the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media. Google says innovation is underfunded among nonprofits.

Image via Huffington Post

Google is also a big supporter of a free and open Web. Its Take Action page is dedicated to protesting the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), which is bringing together regulators from around the world to re-negotiate a decades-old communication treaty.

Edited by Amanda Ciccatelli

TechZone360 Web Editor

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