Posted Friday, Dec. 7, 2012, at 2:30 PM
Photo by PHILIPPE DESMAZES/AFP/GettyImages
Horrific photos of subdued rhinos with their horns amputated by poachers have become a viral phenomenon. Now Google’s philanthropic arm is throwing $5 million to a conservation group for lightweight drones that will patrol the African bush, exposing ivory hunters along the way.
Google’s cash will help the World Wildlife Fund purchase a fleet of tablet-operated “conservation drones,” which will soar through the wilderness and take snapshots of poachers in action. Citing a need for “solutions that are as sophisticated as the threats we face,” the WWF said the drones will help bolster conservation efforts thwarted by the demand for endangered-animal goods.
The investment couldn’t come at a better time: The past year has seen a significant rise in poaching across Africa. In South Africa alone, 588 rhinos have recently been attacked, up from just 13 five years ago.