Internet giant Google has provided funding for a project that will see endangered animals such as rhinos, tigers and elephants protected by drone cameras.
The autonomous aircraft, controlled via a tablet computer, will be able to take photographs of poachers and track the animals via smart radio tags.
According to the World Wildlife Fund, the £3.1 million grant provided by Google as part of its Global Impact Award programme will help develop software designed to map where poachers are most likely to strike.
Funds will also be spent on developing a mobile DNA sampling kit to match body parts with animals, the WWF said.
Poaching and trafficking of body parts has had a devastating effect on wild populations of animals in some parts of Africa in recent years, the organisation said.
WWF president Carter Roberts said: "We need solutions that are as sophisticated as the threats we face. This pushes the envelope in the fight against wildlife crime."
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