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WWF Bags $5M Google Grant to Protect Endangered Species

Dec 07, 2012 06:58 AM EST

(Photo : Reuters)

World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has received $5 million grants from Google to buy "drones" and use them to monitor endangered species such as rhinoceros and tigers in Africa and Asia.

The "drones", a small aircraft controlled using a tablet computer will track animals using radio tags and photograph poachers in a bid to protect the endangered species. Google allotted the funds as part of the Global Impact Award program, BBC has reported.

"We face an unprecedented poaching crisis. The killings are way up," WWF president Carter Roberts told the BBC.

"We need solutions that are as sophisticated as the threats we face," he said, adding: "This pushes the envelope in the fight against wildlife crime."

There has been a significant increase in the deaths of animals like rhinoceros and elephants as a result of massive poaching activities in countries like South Africa.

Elephants are poached for their ivory, whilst rhinos are killed for their horns that are believed to have medicinal properties and cure diseases like cancer.

Demand for ivories and horns have soared, commanding higher prices. Latest reports from Traffic, the wildlife trade monitoring network, shows that the number of rhinos killed in South Africa has increased from 15 to 388 in the last five years.

This has also paved way for illegal trading business to thrive in the African and Asian nations. According to WWF reports, illegal trading business is currently worth $7-10 billion annually. 

There is an urgent need to take better conservation efforts to protect the wildlife. Using Google's funds, WWF will be testing advanced technologies to stop poaching in vulnerable regions.

"Remote aerial survey systems, wildlife tagging technology and ranger patrolling guided by analytical software like the Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool (SMART) will be integrated to increase the detection and deterrence of poaching in vulnerable sites in Asia and Africa. Our goal is to create an efficient, effective network that can be adopted globally," WWF announced in its news release.

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