Wildlife biologists at the World Wildlife Fund are experimenting with using small non-military drones to help prevent wildlife-poaching in Africa and Nepal.
An increase in poaching driven by record-high black-market prices for elephant ivory and rhinoceros horn has prompted conservationists to begin trial runs with drones carrying multiple cameras, some of them infrared, according to NPR. The drones are programmed to fly along routes rhinos commonly use, while programmers account for previously recorded poacher behavior—like operating under a full moon—in the flight plan.
Matt Lewis, a WWF wildlife biologist, explained that poachers have also become more sophisticated.
“When poachers are starting to use night-vision technology, and when poachers are starting to use tranquilizer drugs to silently dart an animal and cut off its horns at night … it’s incumbent upon us to find a better solution to address that.”