Drones to protect wildlife in India

24th Apr 2013

Kaziranga National Park, which attracts 100,000 tourists each year, is employing remote-controlled aerial drones to save endangered one-horned rhinoceroses in the area.

Located in the Indian state of Assam, the park is a popular attraction with visitors who come from all over the world to catch a glimpse of the vast array of wildlife on display.

Tigers, wild water buffalo and swamp deer all wander the 330-square-mile Unesco World Heritage Site, but what most people really want to see is the one-horned rhinos.

Kaziranga, one of the few places left in eastern India untouched by human habitation, is home to an estimated 2,300 one-horned rhinos, or about two-thirds of the world's population of the beast.

But officials at the park face a constant battle with poachers who seek rhino horn, which is prized in China and parts of eastern Asia for its apparent medicinal properties and appeal as jewellery.

NK Vasu, the chief of Kaziranga, called the first drone flight a "milestone in wildlife protection."

"The Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) was up in the sky for 15 minutes. It landed safely," Vasu said. "We hope this technology will go a long way in effective surveillance of the park."

It is believed to be the first time such a device has been applied to protecting wildlife in India.

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