For the first time, drones are protecting endangered wildlife from poachers.

Headed by the Lindbergh Foundation, the Air Shepherd Initiative aims to prevent the slaughter of elephants and rhinos on the African continent by flying drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), equipped with GPS and infrared cameras to capture thermal images of these respective, nearly extinct species, according to its website.

Last year poachers killed 40,000 elephants, the group says on its web page. After 1,000 hours of testing, the group says it can prove its program is effective by the drop in poaching-related deaths. "Where we fly, the poaching stops. Completely."

The drones and images will help map out territories where elephants and rhinos tend to gather — and the routes poachers use to hunt them down. Rangers are dispatched immediately if nighttime hunters are spotted.

With help from the University of Maryland it will create a computer-based capability that can more or less determine where poachers will show up — the same technology that is used to detect where roadside bombs are in Afghanistan and Iraq. 


I'm just glad (and honestly, a bit relieved) that the Air Shepherd Initiative is utilizing drone technology for a purpose other than needless drone strikes, or, say, this:

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