Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) aren't just for the military anymore! UAV drone technology is now making an appearance at National Parks in Southeast Asia to aid in conservation efforts.
At the Kaziranga National Park in northeast India, UAVs are now spanning the skies in search for illegal wildlife activities. The Kaziranga National Park is home to the Indian rhino. And, similarly to their African cousins, this rare one-horned rhino is being poached for its hood ornament (which, by the way, is made of nothing more than glorified fingernail). Sixteen rhinos have already been killed this year by gangs of poachers carrying AK-47s. The UAV program, launched on Monday, will be looking for poachers from a max elevation of 200 meters taking still and video photography. They hope the UAVs will aide the over 300 armed guards with surveillance of the park inevitably reducing poaching not only of the rhino, but elephants and tigers as well.
The use of this technology was originally developed from an innovative idea to monitor orangutan populations in Indonesia. The prototype design was simply a digital camera attached to an electronic plane. In just one year this drone technology has grown immensely. This program shows so much promise for future conservation applications that Google awarded the World Wildlife Fund $5 million to develop even more advanced technology! Watch the video below to find out more about UAV technology in conservation from Dr. Lian Pin Koh's presentation from the Fuller Symposium last November.