x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

A good use for drones

Although drones are largely used for military purposes, they are also helping in the fight against poaching.

Drones get a lot of bad press. In Afghanistan and other hot spots, where Predators and other models are used by the US military in counter-insurgency, they too often kill the wrong people. In more peaceful countries, the proliferation of unmanned aerial vehicles has raised fears of unwarranted privacy violations.

Yet drones have beneficial uses, too. In some countries, for example, they promise to give forest rangers a vital advantage against poachers.

While Kenya has been using drones to maintain surveillance over its endangered white rhino population, authorities in India's Assam state are planning to fly them to deter rhino poaching. And at Nepal's Chitwan National Park, they have been yielding remarkable results.

Encouragingly, Google last year awarded a US$5 million (Dh18.36 million) grant to the World Wildlife Fund to use and adapt new technologies - including drones - to combat animal poaching around the world.

As we know, technological innovations bring advantages as well as disadvantages. The outcome depends on how we use new devices.

Which leads us to ask: will game-protection officials be able to resist the temptation to use armed Predators against predatory poachers?