Unmanned aerial vehicle technology designed by Spanish engineers will be used to fight rhino poachers in national parks in Africa. The ranger drone is fitted with thermal vision that can report potential irregularities in real time.
Four researchers from the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UPC) in Barcelona worked with Hemav, a company that promotes UAV and drone solutions, to design the drone. The UAV uses thermography, sound identification and onboard processing data. The idea emerged as a way of dealing with an alarming increase in rhino poaching in South Africa in recent years.
Rhino horn is highly prized in traditional Asian medicine, where it is ground into a fine powder or manufactured into tablets as an unproven treatment for a variety of illnesses such as nosebleeds, strokes, convulsions, and fevers. In 2009, 122 rhinos were killed, a number that has since more than tripled to 388 rhinos in 2012, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature. South Africa has reportedly lost more than 2,600 rhinos since 2008 due to poaching, which could cause the animal's extinction, according to stoprhinopoaching.org.