Google cash buys drones to watch endangered species

Sumatran tiger The cash will be used to adapt technology to help protect endangered species

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Drones could soon be helping protect rhinos, tigers and elephants in Africa and Asia, thanks to cash from Google.

Controlled via a tablet computer, the small autonomous aircraft will photograph poachers and track animals via smart radio tags.

The World Wildlife Fund added the $5m (£3.1m) grant would also fund software that could map where poachers strike.

And it was developing a mobile DNA sampling kit to match body parts with animals.

The WWF said poaching and trafficking of body parts was having a devastating effect on the wild populations of some species, setting back decades long conservation efforts.

The past 12 months have seen a significant rise in attacks on some animals, such as rhinos.

In five years the number of rhinos killed in South Africa has risen from 13 to 588, according to statistics from Traffic, which monitors the trade in endangered animal parts.

WWF president Carter Roberts said: "We face an unprecedented poaching crisis. The killings are way up.

"We need solutions that are as sophisticated as the threats we face.

"This pushes the envelope in the fight against wildlife crime."

Google gave the WWF the cash as part of its Global Impact Award programme.

The first round of these awards handed out $23m (£14.2m) to seven separate organisations.

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