Guards on anti-poaching patrol in Gabon.

Guards on anti-poaching patrol in Gabon. IMG: James Morgan via WWF


Some of the world’s most beautiful species including rhinos, elephants, and tigers are currently threatened by animal poaching. Animal parts such as ivory, tusks, skins, and bones are trafficked and sold illegally, valuing an estimated $7 to $10 billion a year. In 2011, ivory amounting to approximately 2,500 was seized. Between 2007 and 2011, rhino poaching in South Africa has increased by a whopping 3000%. Today, sadly, only 3,200 tigers exist, and they are currently being threatened by animal poaching.

Illegal wildlife trade doesn’t just kill species, it also impacts communities that depend on wildlife for resources and causes imbalance in nature. In attempt to catch their target species with trap, animal poachers end up accidently killing other animals that they weren’t intending to kill.

To fight against animal poachers, WWF launched a conservation-drone program. In 2012 WWF tested two drones in Nepal. These drones are modified aircrafts that can stay in the air for 45 minutes; their purpose is to monitor animals and to keep a look out for poachers.  With Data collected by the drones, law-enforcement with be alerted if poaching gangs are threatening animals and can stop them before they commit the crime.

Recent in the news, Google has given WWF a $5 million grant to use to support conservation groups using technology to stop illegal wildlife trade. With this money, WWF can extend its conservation drone program to sites in Africa and Asia. The funds will also help establish a tagging system and analytical software that rangers can use to monitor animals and illegal logging.

With the help of this new technology, conservation groups and organizations can increase the detection of poaching. What is great about the drones is that it can in fact deter poachers from even showing up to the site. It is hoped that this new program will curb this illegal wildlife trade by creating higher risks for poachers are driving up prices for animal parts.

In the long run, the goal is to launch this network globally, extending it to forests and oceans.

To learn more about the WWF, click here.

WWF Nepal Launches Conservation Drones