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News broke today that, after a wildly successful pilot program, Kenya will be deploying drones in all 52 of its national parks and reserves. Amazingly, the pilot program found that drones reduced poaching by up to 96 percent in a major protected wildlife area -- a figure conservationists hope will prove true for the rest of the country’s parks.
"Use of drones has shown that we can prevent poaching and arrest many poachers on their tracks,” Paul Udoto, spokesman for the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), told the Guardian. “The pilot project has been a success and we are working with many partners including the Kenya police, the National Intelligence Service, and a lot of international partners such as Interpol, Ugandan and Tanzanian governments."
The drones will provide 24-hour aerial surveillance and spot poachers before they kill wildlife. The $103 million project, funded by the governments of Kenya, Canada, the U.S., Netherlands and France, will also employ other technology like firearms, bulletproof vests and night equipment to save wildlife like rhinos and elephants. The push comes not a moment too soon -- poachers have killed 18 rhinos and 51 elephants in 2014 so far.
"Poaching is a menace and we have realized something had to be done,” William Kiprono, KWS director, told the Guardian. “That is why we decided to come up with the idea to use drones. This is a project that may even last a lifetime as long as poaching remains a problem and the global demand for wildlife products continues to increase."