When the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) wanted to fight animal poachers—illegal hunters of wildlife—they decided to bring in an unorthodox weapon: Drones. But these drones were different from the killer Predators of public imagination. Instead, they were unarmed, superlightweight, and users launch them by throwing them into the air—in fact, they are heavily modified model aircraft. After negotiations, Nepal was chosen as a pilot site for the wildlife drones. First launched in mid-2012, the WWF drones offered a new, experimental method of stopping poachers.
Now, wildlife-protecting drones are coming to the rest of the world. Last week, Google announced they would help the WWF purchase African and Asian poacher-seeking UAVs. As part of Google’s 2012 Global Impact Awards program, the WWF received $5 million to buy similar unarmed drones to watch and track African wildlife poachers.