Drones guided by supercomputers have eradicated rhino poaching in South African park.
Drones that have their flight patterns marked out by supercomputers have successfully stopped rhino poaching dead in its tracks in South Africa’s Hluhluwe Imfolozi Park. The team behind the endeavor plans to expand the program to protect elephants as well.
Unmanned aerial vehicles commonly referred to as drones have eliminated the killing of endangered rhinoceroses over the past six months. The drones have been remotely controlled by Air Shepherd, the nonprofit program that is running the protection services. It is undeniably a stunning achievement, considering the fact that poachers shot and killed between 12 and 19 rhinos a month prior to the deployment of the drones.
Interestingly, it’s not just the presence of drones that has deterred the poachers. These drones are guided by a supercomputer that intelligently predicts where poachers will appear next. These flying robots show ranger teams where to apprehend the killers even before they take positions, let alone pull the trigger.
If that’s not impressive enough, ground teams are equipped with a 3D-printer that makes replacement parts on-site, thereby ensuring drones are kept aloft.
Explaining the process, John Petersen, chairman of the Minnesota-based nonprofit Lindbergh Foundation, which runs Air Shepherd said, “It works because we can see the animals and the poachers in the dark with our thermal imaging cameras, and we already know where they’re both going to be before they’re there.”
The drones have been the ultimate life-savers for Africa’s extremely endangered rhinos and elephants that were on the brink of extinction. These magnificent creatures have been slaughtered since ancient times for their horns and tusks. However, the number of elephants and rhinos killed has climbed alarmingly in the last few years.
In fact, in the last three years alone, poachers have slaughtered over 100,000 African elephants, and last year, more than 1,200 rhinos were butchered in South Africa alone.
These drones have flight plans uploaded into them that have been generated by the same algorithm used by the United States military. It’s based on the same code used to predict where insurgents would place roadside bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan. The algorithm is powerful enough to predict with 93 percent accuracy the whereabouts of rhinos, as well as their hunters.
Searching for the elusive rhinos in the great expanse of Africa might not be hard, but preventing their slaughter at the hands of these merciless poachers is another story. So far, the drones have flown 760 missions totaling over 1,000 hours without a single poaching incident, which is a major success story in the struggle to save these magnificent animals.
[Image Credit | UAV Solutions, Tech Central]