Malawi welcoming anti-poaching drones supported by Google and the WWF conservation group
The Malawi Government is being assisted with high-tech surveillance by agreeing to flights by anti-poaching drones as part of an initiative supported by Google and the WWF conservation group.
The drones, which resemble large model airplanes, have been used in South African wildlife areas and are said to be part of the Air Shepherd program of the U.S.-based Lindbergh Foundation.
They can act as a highly visible deterrent to poachers fearing capture, though vast and rugged terrain as well as legal and bureaucratic obstacles have hampered some anti-poaching drone projects in Africa.
Officials in Zimbabwe who have also agrred to the flights of these drones, acknowledge their anti-poaching efforts are in “desperate trouble” and view drones as a potentially effective tool to protect elephants and other species that are a pillar of the country’s faltering tourism industry, Otto Werdmuller Von Elgg, operator of the Air Shepherd drones, said Friday.
According to media reporting out of South Africa, one drone team plans to start operations next week in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe’s biggest reserve, said Von Elgg, director of the South African drone company UDS.
Ruthless poachers in Hwange have used cyanide to poison elephants in large numbers before cutting off their tusks. Wildlife officials in Zimbabwe lack sufficient funding and say they need more rangers to patrol the nation’s parks.