South Africa Turns To High-Tech Aircraft To Defend Rhinos

Owen Poindexter
Faced with an increasing problem of rhino poachers, South Africa is deploying high-tech surveillance aircrafts to spot and ward off poachers before they can strike.

A baby Black Eastern Rhinoceros and her mother. South Africa is stepping up its efforts to protect these majestic beasts. PHOTO: Reuters

South Africa is getting serious about rhino poachers: they are going after them with high-tech drones. These are surveillance drones, not predator, and they scour parks where rhino poaching is rampant, scanning with heat cameras for rhino poachers.

Rhinos are hunted for their horns, which many believe, with no scientific backing can cure cancer and other ailments, namely "devil possession" (isn't there a vaccine for that now?). The reconaissance aircraft that aims to seek out poachers before they can make a kill is low speed and quiet.

Already a record 558 rhinos have been killed by poachers this year, enough to cause population decline. South Africa has used its military to deter poachers, but that was not enough to stop the practice. The government is now hoping a step up in technology will help save the beasts, who have evolved excellent defense against all sorts of natural menaces, but can do little against human ingenuity.