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South Africa Drones For Anti-Rhino-Poaching Patrol 96

Posted by samzenpus
from the no-horn-for-you dept.
garymortimer writes "The SA National Defence Force is considering using an unmanned drone helicopter to target rhino poachers, Defence Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said yesterday. She told a press conference in Pretoria she wanted state weapons company Denel to further develop an unmanned aerial vehicle it was working on so it could be used to help SA National Parks catch rhino poachers."
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South Africa Drones For Anti-Rhino-Poaching Patrol

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  • The damage done by poachers is enormous. They decimate wild herds of BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

  • I am against the death penalty, but ...

    • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

      I am against the death penalty, but ...

      I agree that poaching endangered species is a terrible crime, but death penalty seems excessive unless you also want to apply it to the subhumans who jack deer up in Wisconsin.

      But I can see how some people would think poaching a rhinoceros is a good thing. I imagine it keeps it nice and moist and seals in the flavor. I wonder if you would use chicken stock or a nice dry white wine?

      [I think I've been watching too many cooking shows.]

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by yodleboy (982200)
        "I agree that poaching endangered species is a terrible crime, but death penalty seems excessive unless you also want to apply it to the subhumans who jack deer up in Wisconsin."

        the difference being while deer may be scarce where you are, they are nowhere close to endangered and in some places are right up there with rats as an overpopulated nuisance. You want more deer? Ship them in. You want more rhinos? Ship them...wait a sec...

        not standing up for deer jackers, just pointing out that killing 1 of
        • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

          the difference being while deer may be scarce where you are, they are nowhere close to endangered and in some places are right up there with rats as an overpopulated nuisance.

          My objection to jacking deer has nothing to do with them being endangered.

          If the issue was really "There are so many deer and they're a nuisance so we have to kill them", there are much more efficient way to get rid of an overpopulation of deer than having two guys with a thousand dollars worth of gear get drunk, drive for hours to whe

          • there are much more efficient way to get rid of an overpopulation of deer than having two guys with a thousand dollars worth of gear get drunk, drive for hours to where the deer are, then shine a spotlight in their face so they can kill one deer, then take it back to their friends in town, pay a fortune to have a taxidermist mount it and act like they're big game hunters.

            Very true... But few ways that are more profitable for the area than that... We don't have to like it to agree to that.

            • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

              But few ways that are more profitable for the area than that.

              OK, you've got me there. I hadn't thought of the money that deer hunting brings to rural regions.

              It's just too bad the way behemoth agribusiness corporations have made it necessary for people in rural areas to pimp out nature in this way, selling tickets to the over-fed, allowing them to drive up and destroy deer as if they were getting burgers at Jack-in-the-Box.

  • Arms race? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Chrisq (894406) on Friday November 26, 2010 @06:30AM (#34348666)
    How long until the poachers use drones to hunt the rhino?
    • by mrmeval (662166)

      Not long. What actually worked was when the local community there had an economic incentive to care for the Rhino and exploit them. They had an incentive to defend their Rhino and make sure they were healthy. When Rhino products were made illegal the local community went on to do other things and the poachers moved in to exploit the resource.

      The world population of chickens was 15.85 billion in 2002.

  • by PARENA (413947)

    Good to see something truly useful done with drones. What I do wonder is: won't poachers be able to shoot those things right out of the sky or would they fly too high for that.

    I can now imagine poachers with rocket launchers. o_O

    • by Chatsubo (807023)

      I would say if your drone just got shot out of the sky, it is a good indication that you can send a team of rangers.

    • by surd1618 (1878068)
      I completely agree. Just reading the post made me feel a little better for a second. Drones feel like an elegant solution to the problem of poachers. Gas-powered ones might even be useful, although I'd rather have some kind of pie-in-the-sky solar-powered poacher slayer. And if they start using them on people, make some drapes out of plate iron.
  • Is this the best or worst idea my government has ever had ?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I heard that the prototype using rhino horn fibre in the leading edges fly further and does not need de-icing equipment.

  • test (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by Chrisq (894406)
    test
  • I guess those rhino's are of military importance after all...
  • Predator (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    This is a good use for armed hunter killer drones.

  • Arms race? (Score:1, Redundant)

    by Chrisq (894406)
    How long before the poachers use drones to hunt the rhino?
  • Drastic measures (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Rexdude (747457) on Friday November 26, 2010 @06:52AM (#34348758)
    Stick a tranquilizer gun in it to knock out the poachers from a distance so that they can be picked up. If they try shooting back, use a sniper rifle on them.
  • Unfortunately there is no mention, beyond painting the poacher red, of what weapons the UAV will have.

  • In South Africa the birds hunt YOU!
  • I suggest they use lead paintballs.

  • I watched a documentary about the Boers in South Africa. The film said that most folks had three muskets on their horse, and could reload them in the saddle. There is no need for those UAVs ... a Boer on a horse can handle your poacher problems.

    • by silentcoder (1241496) on Friday November 26, 2010 @09:16AM (#34349340) Homepage

      I'm a descendant of those boers. Trust me - it's not like that anymore.
      Very much like the average person living in Lincoln County today cannot draw, fire and actually hit a target in under 4 seconds anymore. It was a survival skill for my ancestors a hundred years ago, that skill was why roughly 500 men could defeat a conservatively estimated 10000 men at the battle of blood river (granted there were several other force multipliers that they used - their enemies had short-range spears [Assegai is really a sort of intermediary design between a spear and a sword] rather than guns, they had an excellent location that prevented all the enemy forces from striking at once, the weather was hugely in their favor), some 70 years after that their grandchildren gave Britain hell in a war for 3 years that was ultimately only won by ultimately killing 27 thousand women and children.
      After the war though, the vast majority of their children moved to cities and towns, the great shooting skill of my ancestors died out within two generations.
      My great-grandfather could hit a thumbprint at 500m through open-sights in real-world conditions (so could just about everybody he knew of course), my grandfather could just about hit a beer can at that range, my dad will probably hit somewhere in target (but he is an ex-cop).
      Most of the generation of us today have fathers who still go hunting now and then - but the vast majority of us have never actually fired a gun. I don't own one, and feel no need to - and I am actually a good shot. My sister and I both won colors doing sport-shooting in school. She was the rifle expert, I preferred pistols.
      Neither of us have ever shot a weapon at any living thing however, neither of us have fired a gun in at least 10 years, we've never done so without supervision. As adults, once we no longer did the sport - our interest waned. And most of our schoolmates didn't do the same sport, many of them own pistols but most of them have never even touched a rifle.

      We're still a gun-crazy country (almost as bad as America really) - in part because of that history and the fact that our parents were still draughted in the bush-war - but the fact is, the old Boers who could live off the land for weeks at a time, never-ever missed a shot (because bullets were expensive and scarce), and could hit a moving the size of a rabit from a horse in gallop just don't exist anymore. Our field-rangers in the parks are probably the closest to that which still survives - and it's clearly not enough or we wouldn't be looking at this sort of technology. Those of us who still farm are the last ones you should look at, they are by-and-large the most obese population group in the country.

      Sadly, your documentary sounds fairly accurate - but it's about as applicable to modern-day industrialized Afrikaans culture as a documentary on Billie the Kid is to the typical modern American.

      • by c6gunner (950153)

        never-ever missed a shot (because bullets were expensive and scarce),

        Those two statements are contradictory. Being a good shot requires lots of practice. If bullets are scarce and expensive, you won't get lots of practice. Ergo, one of the two statements are false.

        There's plenty of exaggeration in the rest of your comment, too, but the general narrative seems accurate enough.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by anethema (99553)
          Ya stuff like a thumb print at 500 meters is just insane and impossible.

          A modern standard military sniper rifle is around 1 minute of angle(MOA) accuracy. So roughly, at 500 yards (close enough to meters), groups will be shot within a 5 inch circle. The chance of you hitting a thumb print is fairly small.

          Even the best guns from a machine rest shoot 0.25ish MOA, so this is a 1.25 inch circle area at 500 yards. Keeping in mind this is a scoped modern rifle, with a modern bullet, in a clamp on a bench.

          The ball
          • >Ya stuff like a thumb print at 500 meters is just insane and impossible.
            That was a direct quote from my great-grandfather, it was probably exaggerated but close enough for government work. He did on multiple occasions sit on his front porch and shoot Kudu running up a nearby hill which was further than that away though, I know because my family still owned that farm until not long ago (we donated it to the Thabazimbi nature reserve in my generation - there was never an official will so it got subdivided

            • by anethema (99553)
              The thing is the main thrust of your argument is that they HAD to be that accurate. The problem is the numbers just don't agree.

              A 71/84 with modern reworks has just (BARELY) been able to hit 1MOA accuracy. In the old days it was likely near ~2 MOA.

              This gives you a ten inch circle at 500 yards. A 6 inch circle at 300 yards.

              Even assuming 1 MOA, it makes it unlikely to hit a fingerprint at 500 yards. Even at 300 yards. Possible certainly, but not in any repeatable or reliable way. And this is in a machine rest
        • >Those two statements are contradictory. Being a good shot requires lots of practice. If bullets are scarce and expensive, you won't get lots of practice. Ergo, one of the two statements are false.

          Only if you're an idiot. They made their own bullets - and it was cheap and easy to practice at home, which they did - all the time.
          Out in the field however, bullets were scarce and hard to come by - making a fire is one thing, making bullets out in the veld is a completely different thing. Bullets were scarce

      • by riT-k0MA (1653217)

        Those of us who still farm are the last ones you should look at, they are by-and-large the most obese population group in the country.

        Hey, boet: you're forgetting about our fat-cat politicians...

  • Painted red (Score:3, Funny)

    by conureman (748753) on Friday November 26, 2010 @07:20AM (#34348874)

    Pb Paintballs FTW!

  • Its rather upsetting listening to the local news radio stations on how they're often catching the poachers... far too late. Every week there's a new story about them. *sigh*.
  • Would be interesting to see poachers arming themselves with AA defenses. Maybe those old South Park episodes, depicting hunting with a bazooka or Apache, were somewhat prophetic.

  • This is a great application for UAV technology, one that doesn't involve spying on or killing innocent people.

    • by c6gunner (950153)

      Now if only we could come up with a good application of commenting technology. You know, one that doesn't involve being a complete asshat.

  • They could hover over the Rhinos and protect them with AI assisted tracking cameras and laser guided missiles. It's a beautiful future.
    • Except unless the blimps are many thousands of feet up (too high to track the poachers) they're also easy targets, especially if the poachers get something as simple as a quadcopter with a mini-bayonet taped to it (once it pierces the gas bag, the blimp will eventually fall out of the sky).

  • Execute poachers (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Viol8 (599362) on Friday November 26, 2010 @08:08AM (#34349058)

    When a species is this near the edge something drastic needs to be done. If they were hunting the rhino for food I'd have some sympathy , but just to make money selling the horn to halfwit chinese for their idiotic herbal "remedies" or aphrodisiacs is inexcusable. And don't anyone respond with some western moral imperialism argument - we're beyond that niave political nonsense now. If poaching isn't stopped the rhino will soon be gone.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Graff (532189)

      When a species is this near the edge something drastic needs to be done. If they were hunting the rhino for food I'd have some sympathy

      Well they are poaching them. My question is what are they using for the cooking liquid...

    • by ddxexex (1664191)
      Poaching is already a big black market and chances are they might kill a few people who come in their way. They probably violate so many other laws that it isn't necessary to do this in the first place. This is true everywhere, I've heard that in the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans give some of their inspectors guns for investigating possible fishing violations. Sadly, it looks like all the drones would seem to do is make the poachers charge more for rhino horns or whatever to offset the cost
    • While I agree, using rhino horn for "idiotic herbal remedies" is completely inexcusable, it's not actually used as an aphrodisiac, but as a remedy for fever. I can't remember my reference for that, apologies, but it's a common misconception.
  • I am thinking that the poachers will use a Rhino outfit like in Ace Ventura... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nh2iyPmucFk [youtube.com]
  • What's wrong with hiring flesh and blood people to combat poaching? With over 25% unemployment, you'd think the government could hire people to take them off the unemployed statistics, and for a lot cheaper than the cost of a UAV + salary of its remote pilot.

    It sounds awfully like a scheme to help a national company who can't sell enough stuff on the private market to stay afloat. Kind of like the french Rafale airplane, produced by Dassault, whose only customer is the french military.

    • by Huntr (951770)
      The parks are *HUGE*. Kruger NP alone is about 19k sq km. The issue isn't getting a few more boots on the ground, it's hiring a lot more people, putting them in dangerous situations, and feeding and caring for them vs using 1 drone that can be operated remotely and which can cover much more area more efficiently. This is a very good idea to combat a desperate problem. The face that it helps an SA national company grow is a plus.
    • by c6gunner (950153)

      With over 25% unemployment, you'd think the government could hire people to take them off the unemployed statistics, and for a lot cheaper than the cost of a UAV + salary of its remote pilot.

      Yeah, right. Do you have any idea how many people you'd need in order to cover the same area as just one UAV?

      Hey, here's another way they can save money: instead of buying supercomputers for research projects, just hire a bunch of guys with abacuses.

  • Bad guys (tm) can use drones too. Let the drone wars begin.

  • by Xest (935314)

    To target Rhino poachers? Are we talking Hellfire armed Reapers here?

    That's one way to deal with the problem I suppose.

  • preventing poaching i mean.

    there was a documentary in discovery or another channel. about a guy who stopped poaching after being put in charge of anti poaching prevention. the african country in this case was having a lot of troubles preventing poaching. poachers were running amok in the face of the rangers, and they were armed with ak47s and other guns. (poachers - actually many tribes in africa are armed with firearms, ak47 most popular)

    the guy was an ex military commander in some other country, (we
  • Eggs I can understand but how the hell do you poach a rhino anyway? I'm guessing you probably need to peel them first?
  • i saw it in a discovery or other channel documentary. poachers were running amok in the face of park rangers in an african country. naturally, they were armed. they were poaching elephants. (most tribes are armed in africa, ak47 is preferred)

    the country hired an ex army man (from west) as the head of the rangers. the guy trained park rangers as army rangers, and had them start to kill poachers. rangers were very effective now, laying in wait in treetops, coming with helicopters and whatnot.

    poaching st
    • Look in Google Earth for Kruger Park. It's the size of a small country and also acts as one of ZA's borders.. The rangers are armed and do shoot to kill but are a bit thin on the ground as the parks are self financing. Poachers are highly organized bunch and also heavily armed. Bit of an uphill battle. Drones are a good idea but knowing our bunch the tender process will kill any chance of it happening. Nod, nod, wink,wink.

      • by kaur (1948056)

        The rangers are armed and do shoot to kill but are a bit thin on the ground as the parks are self financing. Poachers are highly organized bunch and also heavily armed. Bit of an uphill battle.

        Thus, the poachers will soon have air superiority as well. And they will get their drones faster than the government or park management - as they do not need to follow any "tender process".

        Anyone inventing or deploying a new weapon will get an advantage... but a temporary one. After that, the one with more money or a better incentive to use it will win.

      • If they can legally shoot to kill, then arm a heli UAV with some machine guns and turn the poachers into mincemeat >:) Hell I've got plenty of experience in heli combat sims and RC piloting experience, I'll apply for the job!

    • by Combatso (1793216)
      Thats twice you posted this without any details.. I find it hard to beleive poachign was stopped 'flat out'... Tho I do agree... shoot to kill this twisted poachers...

      I say we mount remote control weaponry to the rhino's themselves... When Rhinos start shooting back, that sends a message.
    • by Xest (935314)

      Or alternatively, put international pressure on China to use it's oppression of citizens to prevent the purchase of Rhino horns from poachers in the first place.

      If China is going to oppress it's citizens, it could at least do it for a good cause!

  • ...of the Rhinos?

  • Once again, weapons technology is used in civil applications to make the world a little better. We've seen that countless times in history already.

    Pity that weapons and "defensive" technology so often are used to kill people and to reduce freedom...

  • ... it's the only way to be sure.

    Turning Rhino into mutant radioactif behemothes should also help the specie survive poaching.
  • Human poachers poach Rhinos ==> Robot drones poach poachers. There's kind of a poetic justice quality in that, and heightened by the cold threat of robotic killing machines.
  • At last! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by daem0n1x (748565) on Friday November 26, 2010 @10:54AM (#34349940)
    Finally, a decent use for drones. Instead of killing people, they save rhinos.
  • Think about it. Give each Rhino, or other really rare large mammal, its own small drone that follows it at all times. A more sophisticated form of radio tracking collar.
    • by surd1618 (1878068)

      Its presence might just drive some animals crazy.

      Also, battery packs need swapping. Each rhino would have a string of drone hives across its range.

      It would be better if the drones follow a mow-the-lawn shape, beginning and ending at charge stations. Then it will become a race between hunters hiding in further reaches or creating camouflage, and drones that get better at seeing, hearing, smelling, and scanning for humans, and sweeping out ever more unpredictable paths.

  • Why not have rhino farms in which the rhinos are raised, taken care of and then butchered for there parts which are marketable. Then the rhinos won't die off because the ranchers would have incentive to keep their herd alive. The demand for ivory will likely never go away, even after the rhinos do.
  • "You know. See, everyone got boners over the technology, and it was pretty incredible. Watching missiles fly down air vents, pretty unbelievable. But couldn't we feasibly use that same technology to shoot food at hungry people? Know what I mean? Fly over Ethiopia, "There's a guy that needs a banana!" SHOOP. The Stealth Banana. Smart fruit! I don't know."

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