How Drones Are Fighting Poaching In South Africa

How Drones Are Fighting Poaching In South Africa

The immense density of the rainforest is one of its more incredible defining characteristics, so this company uses a combination of drones and advanced AI technology to spot poachers and stop them before any animals are harmed.
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If you’ve ever been out in a National Park like the Kruger National Park, there are a lot of lions, there are a lot of leopards. Even although these are highly experienced trackers that understand which way to walk, and where to walk, and how to walk into the wind and not with the wind, it’s still a daunting task for anybody. So typically what happens is we would integrate a drone unit with an anti-poaching unit.

Poachers are creatures of habit. They have entry and exit points into the various parks. So we would then go out probably eight o’clock in the evening and we’d basically stay there right up until sunup the following morning and we would go and plot a grid and we would fly and patrol that grid looking for a possible incursion. If an incursion is detected, the first thing that happens is that the drone is placed into a holding pattern, or a loiter pattern, and we would simply loiter in the radius at an altitude that keeps us working in a stealthy manner. We would have no navigation lights turned on during this process. And we would be watching the activity of the poacher on the ground. And at the same time, the drone team, that consists of a sensor operator and a pilot, would radio in and start giving coordinates to the anti-poaching unit.

The best result is that the poachers are apprehended and are arrested and end up in the court case. And with a bit of luck, they’re prosecuted for doing this. Sometimes, there can be a firefight and the poachers will return fire and there can be a gunfight and there can be fatalities. I mean, that happens. It’s not always like that, but probably 30% of the time, that’s real.

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Drones Are Helping Catch Poachers Operating Under Cover of Darkness
“Stopping or even just slowing poachers could have big benefits for the countries where they operate. Residents of such countries often depend on wildlife to support the local economy, in part by attracting tourists who want to see animals like elephants and rhinos run wild. But poaching has broader global ramifications, too.”

High Above, Drones Keep Watchful Eyes on Wildlife in Africa

“Since taking over operations here, the group has confiscated upwards of 18,000 illegal snares, made over 100 arrests, installed more than 60 miles of electric fencing and removed 261 elephants to another reserve.”

Elephant Poaching Pushes Species To Brink Of Extinction
“African forest elephants have been in trouble for a while, but only now have scientists figured out that more than half of them have died over the past decade. It took hundreds of researchers nine years, walking literally thousands of miles, counting piles of elephant dung as well as elephant carcasses stripped of their ivory tusks, to realize that the majority of the dead had been shot.”


Across the globe, elephants are poached for their tusks, pangolins for their scales, and totoaba fish for their bladders. Tackling the fourth largest crime industry in the world isn’t easy, but biologists, roboticists, detectives and even NASA scientists are getting creative in the hopes of making a difference. In this Seeker series, we’ll investigate true stories of wildlife crime and meet the people who are working to protect the world’s most endangered and persecuted animals.

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