Eyes in the Skies: Drones Join the Fight to Save Wildlife

By Laura Dattaro
Published: May 6, 2014

Kenya's National Parks

Aerial view of elephants fighting in Kenya's Amboseli National Park. (Steve Bloom Images/Alamy)

As elephants and rhinos continue to fall prey to poachers seeking to sell their tusks, the need for new ways to track, find and stop poachers becomes ever more urgent. In Kenya alone, poachers killed 89 rhinos and 686 elephants in 2012 and 2013, Reuters reports.

Species around the world face these and more threats. One of the best new technologies in the fight to protect wildlife is the unmanned aerial vehicle, commonly known as a drone. Without the need for a pilot on board, drones can fly into dangerous areas and can keep an eye on the wild around the clock.

Some groups looking into the use of drones for conservation have already reported early successes. And when wildlife photographers get their hands on the technology, the results can be truly stunning. Here we take a look at some of the innovative ways drones are being used to monitor, protect and appreciate wildlife.

First off, Kenya's national park system.

After a wildly successful pilot program that reduced poaching by 96 percent in a protected wildlife area, Kenya is going full on with its commitment to drones as a tool for poaching prevention. The country’s wildlife service is set to deploy drones in all 52 of its national parks, The Guardian reports, allowing rangers to spot poachers before they attack. “We have tried so many other security measures, but they have failed us,” Kenya Wildlife Service spokesperson Paul Udoto told The Guardian. The drone presence is deterring many poachers, Udoto says, and making it far easier to find the ones who still try. 

NEXT: Only seven left on Earth

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