While we're fairly certain that Google's new grant to the World Wildlife Fund to buy drones to keep track of endangered animals doesn't include Reaper drones and Hellfire missiles, we can't be completely sure. So just in case, we're including this picture. All you have to do is imagine a rhino waaaay over there on the right with a poacher behind it, and hope that the missile can tell which is which.
Or maybe it's all supposed to work slightly less, um, violently.
What the WWF is going to try is an integrated animal monitoring solution involving electronic tags, aircraft, and human patrols, all guided by a Spatial Monitoring And Reporting Tool (SMART, of course). According to the Beeb, these monitoring aircraft will be robotic in nature, likely small drones controlled by tablets, and they'll be able to snap photos of suspected poachers while following tagged animals around.
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Software will help the WWF identify which animals are most vulnerable and in what areas, with the eventual goal of "creating an efficient, effective network that can be adopted globally."
This is a good start, but the sorts of drones that the WWF seems to have in mind may not be sophisticated enough, or powerful enough, to prove much of a direct threat to poachers, meaning that the primary deterrent will have to be the software and the human patrols. That said, there's a lot of potential for this system overall to be a significantly more effective way of protecting endangered animals than the WWF has ever had access to before.
There's just one problem here, which is that this solution is simply not heavy enough on the robots for us. So, here's our advice: take that $5 million, scrap the software and the humans and the tags, and buy yourself a Predator drone and a single Hellfire missile. Go find some poachers, blow up whatever hapless tree they're standing next to, and then go home. Word will get out that the WWF has Predator drones firing missiles at poachers (!), and nobody in their right minds will ever bother the animals ever again. Finally, throw a huge party with all the leftover cash, and invite me. It's brilliant.