Protect animals from illegal hunting and win $25,000!

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

UAV wildlife
A concept drawing of a UAV from Kashmir-Robotics.

As terrible as it sounds, there are humans who hunt down species that are endangered (in danger of going extinct)! Why? For megabucks. After all, a rhinoceros horn can sell for up to $300,000 in Vietnam, so there’s definitely a lot of motivation for illegal hunters to kill the poor beasts.

This act of taking of taking down animals protected by the government and selling their exotic body parts is called “poaching.” It can be difficult to stop poachers, since they’re usually only caught after the terrible crime is committed, and they often just get away with it completely.

Because it’s unrealistic to have thousands of human beings keeping their binoculars zoomed in on every helpless creature, there’s a new strategy being developed that’s rather cool: sending unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) robots to turn the hunters into… the hunted!

After all, these “aerial” (in the air) vehicles are “unmanned” (they don’t need a pilot), so the bots could soar above the skies without requiring park rangers stalking through the grass for miles or letting poachers get away when they hear loud helicopter blades. Just quiet… stealthy machines zipping high above… keeping these humans in their targeting sights!

An organization called Kashmir-Robotics has been set up to create drones (flying machines) that will be used against the poachers. They’re working together with the Reserve Protection Agency, which is a non-profit group (meaning it’s focused more on solving a problem than making money) that protects wildlife. Also joining in the effort are the South African National Parks and drone companies like Design Intelligence and Global Unmanned Systems.

To really raise the stakes on the illegal hunters, an awesome competition has begun, called the Wildlife Conservation UAV Challenge. Its goal? According to their website, they want contestants “…to design low cost UAVs that can be deployed over the rugged terrain of Kruger, equipped with sensors able to detect and locate poachers, and communications able to relay accurate and timely intelligence to Park Rangers.”

So, start researching and gathering your design ideas together, folks. You’d be amazed by the kinds of inventions kids can come up with when they put their noggins together!

Featured image courtesy of Wildlife Conservation UAV Challenge. Video courtesy of Ol Pejeta Conservancy on Indiegogo.