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Kruger National Park is getting drones to boost rhino protection

While Amazon has just received permission to test drone-delivery in the States, the Kruger National Park in South Africa is getting more aerial power of its own in an effort to improve rhino protection.

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South African National Parks (SANParks) announced yesterday that, as part of the current strategy to combat rhino poaching in the Kruger National Park, it is in the process of applying and evaluating various aerial support technologies, which include the testing of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).

In a media announcement, SANParks CEO Fundisile Mketeni explained: “The UAV project aims at investigating the effectiveness of various UAV technologies as instruments in rhino protection efforts under a range of operational conditions”. The current UAV programme has been initiated in consultation with and support from both SANDF and South African Civil Aviation Authority

Read more: These ground-breaking drones want to prevent rhino poaching in SA

Mketeni said the UAV project will run for a full year “and by the end of the project we will have a lot of information about the use of available technology in anti-poaching operations and be able to make informed decision on what is best for our environment.”

The testing of UAV technology in Kruger National Park is implemented as one component of a suite of anti-poaching initiatives supported by the Rhino Protection Programme. The roll-out of this multi-faceted programme is made possible thanks to generous funding from the Dutch and Swedish postcode lotteries.

SANParks is also the proud recipient of a brand new Airbus AS-350B3e helicopter with night flying capability made available with funding from the US-based Howard G Buffet Foundation. The HGBF made R254.8-million available to SANParks in 2014 in support of anti-poaching operations in the Kruger National Park, particularly in the Intensive Protection Zone.

Image: Michael Raimondo from Green Renaissance

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