A Drone Contest to End Poaching

drone_wildlife_contestWatch out, poachers. Things are about to get dangerous for you! Kashmir Robotics is offering up a big prize to the next person to design a drone tasked with flying above South Africa’s ‘Kruger National Park.’ Why?

To keep an eye out for poachers. What prize are they offering? Well, how about a 10-day excursion at the park along with $25,000? Sound good?

Protecting Wildlife

The drones will patrol the skies above the park in order to keep an eye on all species, some endangered, that wander the park each day. These animals are susceptible to poachers, who often conduct illegal in remote areas that are hard for park rangers to access. Without the drones, it is almost impossible to safeguard the extremely rare white rhino and other endangered species.

Yes, there are other ways park officials have kept an eye on the creatures and captured poachers at the same time, but the problem hasn’t gone away entirely.

Some researchers have implanted GPS tracker chips in the horns of the rhinos, which is what the poachers are after. They can sell for up to $300,000 in some locations. Others rely on game cameras, set up in places the animals are known to roam. GPS trackers have been placed on elephants, who are hunted for their ivory tusks too. GPS trackers help, but drones bring the kind of eye-in-the-sky monitoring that’s needed.

Drones Are The Answer

Officials would like to look into the use of drones to put an end to poaching. Drones can reach places rangers just can’t, and they keep rangers safe from poachers with sharp weapons. The drones fly above ground, transmitting pictures to the rangers who are somewhere safe, watching the footage as it is being captured.

The only problem with using drones is the cost. These drones can cost more than $4 million per device! Yikes!

The Contest

The true goal of the drone designing contest is to create a drone that is affordable.

Here are the rules:

  1. Each team can be no more than five people in size. It doesn’t matter who you are – even high school students can enter. A team can also employ the assistance of up to two academic or professional advisors.
  2. The drone, complete with GPS tracker technology, and the associated software can only cost up to $3,000.

Once successful, wildlife organizations charged with protecting endangered species will have an extremely powerful tool in their arsenal to combat poaching. The hope is to end this kind of brutal killing altogether.

Do you have what it takes to create the next GPS tracker guided drone? Gather your team and get to work! The deadline for entry is December 1, 2013. The grand prize will be awarded on October 4, 2014.