Kenyan reserve to fly drones to tackle rhino poachers

Kenya, has the world’s third largest rhino population – around 600 black and 300 white rhinos/XINHUA/-File

NAIROBI, Dec 7 – One of Kenya’s best known private game reserves in Kenya announced on Friday a plan to fly unmanned surveillance drones to monitor and protect critically endangered rhinos from rampant poaching.

Ol Pejeta, a 90,000-acre non-profit private wildlife conservancy in central Kenya’s Laikipia District, holds four of the world’s last remaining seven northern white rhinos.

“We are looking to fund our first drone,” the conservancy said in a public appeal to raise the $35,000 for the drone, which will be fixed with a live-streaming camera to track rhinos chipped with radio frequency tags.

“There is currently a poaching epidemic with countless rhino being slaughtered for their horns,” it added.

“In a country with an average wage of just a dollar a day, a rhino horn can bring in $12,000,” the equivalent a night’s work for 30 year’s income.

Kenya, which has the world’s third largest rhino population – around 600 black and 300 white rhinos – is constantly battling poachers.

The illegal trade is driven by the voracious Asian and Middle Eastern demand for the animals’ horns for use in traditional medicines for fevers, convulsions and as an aphrodisiac.

“The teams urgently need aerial support so that they can ensure they are covering the areas most at risk,” it said, adding that the drone would be able to cover up to 50 miles (80 kilometres) and fly for an hour and a half on a single charge.

“Eventually it will also allow people all over the world, from homes to offices to schools and colleges, to take a virtual safari to an African wildlife conservancy,” it added.

“The good news is that protecting wildlife means protecting tourism, and tourism mean more money for people in the local community, not just for a few poachers.”

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  • Jeff_White

    The United States spends $25 million or more on a single drone and has dozens of them. They are used to commit assassinations in foreign countries, and for domestic spying on their own citizens.

    At the same time, an appeal for public charity is required in order to pay for a single $35,000 drone to be used for conservation of critically endangered species.

    That should tell you something very profound about the skewed priorities of the world capitalist system.

    • wkithi

      And how exactly will they “tackle” poachers?Who will be controlling it?I am of the view that this idea should be shelved…for good.How will ordinary villagers be distinguished from poachers via a drone?I dont think this is such a good idea

      • Jeff_White

        I assume the plan does not involve using the drones to “tackle” poachers (the way the imperialist Predator drones are used to fire missiles against assassination targets on the ground). From the article it appears that these unmanned aerial vehicles will be used for surveillance purposes only; interception of poachers would continue to take place on the ground as at present.

  • mwas

    Hate speech

  • Ola

    Rhino horn is not actually used as an aphrodisiac in TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) – but that’s pretty much the only thing it isn’t used for – it is said to “cure” anything from fevers and aches to poisoning. None of this has any scientific backing whatsoever – pretty much the medical equivalent of biting your nails as rhino horn is predominantly keratin. Appalling. Most of this can be traced back to when rhinos were mistaken for unicorns by Marco Polo in 1297 hence thought to have had magical powers and to 1596 when the doctor Li Shih-chen claimed that rhinos have hollow horns that they can breathe and squirt water through, and then shed and bury them every year. Unicorn and rhino horn have essentially been pharmacologically conjoined for the best part of eight centuries. And no, drones are not being used and poaching has truly become an epidemic, with rhinos being dehorned simply to protect their lives. I agree that priorities should be readjusted but am skeptical of that ever happening in this greedy world.