Drone ICT Technology to Fight Poaching in Africa
ICT Africa Writer
February 19, 2013
For the past several weeks, critics of President Barak Obama have been pounding him for the use of drones to target and kill militants in Afghanistan and other terrorist havens. The controversy has been so intense that Obama even had to go on Google Plus to defend his use of the drones. But far from the Washington military controversies, and with the support of Google, Africans have set-out to use the controversial drone technology for a completely different application – animal conversation.
The drone or unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) is operated without a human pilot on-board. Its flight is controlled either by computers inside the vehicle, or by a remote pilot up to thousands of kilometres away. So where is the ICT in all this, you may be wondering. ICT comes in the fact that controlling drones remotely, requires Global Positioning System (GPS) and the video surveillance data collected by the drone cameras is transmitted to the control station via satellite.
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Google recently teamed up to deploy a fleet of anti-poacher UAVs in Africa to survey and stop animal poachers. Google announced the disbursement of a $5 million grant to WWF to purchase a fleet of drone aircraft for Africa. The $5 million grant is part of Google's Global Impact Award program and will help the WWF acquire the drones.
The level of poaching in African countries, especially where rhinos are butchered merely for their horns has become very dangerous. More than 1,500 rhinos have been killed in Zimbabwe alone and more importantly; many men and women have lost their lives trying to protect the endangered species. Rhino horns are usually exported to Asia where they are used to make concoctions that are believed to make men horny. The business is so lucrative that it becomes do or die for poachers without other means of survival, most of them poor servants of Asian crime loads. As poachers become very bold and almost as ferocious as the militants that Obama is fighting in Afghanistan, using drones to track and their activities stop them could help preserve an endangered species and the lives of the men and women who protect the animals.