Sunday, April 5, 2015

Drones Seek Out Rhino Poachers


Double Tragedy: Evans of CBC News writes: “Rhino horns can fetch more than $75,000 per kilogram on the black market. The demand is highest in parts of Asia where it's widely-believed the horns, which are made out of keratin, have medicinal properties.” There is no scientific evidence, however, that they are medically effective.
Photo Credit: Margaret Evans; CBC News
Source: CBC

An article, by Margaret Evans, in CBC News, reports on the efforts being made in South Africa against the illegal killing of rhinos by poachers. Rhino horns can sell for more than $75,000 a kilogram on the black market, thus explaining its appeal.

Demand is greatest in Asia, notably in South Korea, Malaysia, India and China, where the horns are used in traditional potions as a curative for various ailments, including snakebites, hallucinations, typhoid, headaches, carbuncles, vomiting and food poisoning. Yet, the ground-down horns are not effective, at least when meeting the rigorous standards of evidence-based medicine, making the killing of rhinos a double tragedy

Evans writes:
As night draped itself across the savanna in South Africa's Kruger National Park, a small round disk twinkling with green lights and sounding like a swarm of bees rose straight up into the sky.

Here, on the tarmac of a small airstrip near Skukuza, the latest in drone technology is being tested out as rangers seek to gain the upper hand against poachers who are slipping into the park and felling an average of three rhinos a day in pursuit of their horns and the riches they will buy.

The little unmanned aerial vehicle shooting about 250 metres into the sky is just one of a number of models that will be tested in a year-long pilot project run by a company called UAV and Drone Solutions.

The idea is to give extra reach and eyes to rangers trying to police 20,000 kilometres of territory often covered in scrubland and offering plenty of places for poachers to hide.
This is one use of the drone that I can support. It alone will not deter poachers from cashing in on a lucrative trade in rhino horns; it will also take education and a societal pivot away from curatives that have no effect.

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For more, go to [cbc]

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