Over the years the technology used by well-funded poaching operations has become staggering -- helicopters, night-vision goggles, high-powered rifles and other strategies that make it all too easy to find and kill endangered species like elephants and rhinos. However, the good guys aren't messing around either. Through its Global Impact Awards, Google has given WWF $5 million to use technology including aerial surveillance drones and RFID tags on wild animals to staunch the poaching that has surged over the last 12 months, according to BBC.
Popular Science writes, "We’ve seen a couple other uses of technology to curb poaching in the past, notably the use of GPS tags on rhinos, but this time the WWF wants a larger umbrella of monitoring tech. It would include sensors on animals and in their environments, which would be monitored by a network of drones overhead. These could detect poachers and dispatch mobile ranger patrols to catch them, the WWF says. It will be used in four separate sites in Asia and Africa, according to Google."
WWF spokesman Lee Poston also states that, "We are looking into how to track animal parts using things like DNA. So if a ranger find a rhino horn on the ground, we can figure out what happened."
Utilizing the technology we have available is a vital step in saving species that are rapidly disappearing due to a growing demand in Asian countries. Conservation groups have to keep up with, and surpass, the technology being used by sophisticated and well-funded poachers. It's exciting to see Google helping to fund exactly this kind of project.