South Africa considers using UAS to track poachers.


THE SA National Defence Force is considering using an unmanned drone helicopter to “target” rhino poachers, Defence Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said today (November 25).
She told a press conference in Pretoria she wanted state weapons company Denel to further develop an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) it was working on so it could be used to help SA National Parks catch rhino poachers.
“The issue of rhinos is one we recognise as particularly brutal, and we have committed ourselves to SANParks in dealing with this matter.
“We also want to take advantage of the fact Denel has a particular UAV that is able to assist us,” she said.
Sisulu described the UAV as “like a [model] helicopter that your eight-year-old sons use”.
It was unmanned and able to take photos.
“They say it is so good it is able to detect the colour of the shirt of the poacher.
“In the long term we can build on it. We want to develop it to the point where we can target the poacher.
“Initially we might just paint him red and arrest him, but as time goes on we will take more drastic measures,” she said, but did not elaborate on what these measures might be. – Sapa

6 comments for “South Africa considers using UAS to track poachers.

  1. Paul Stevens
    26 November 2010 at 12:36 pm

    Considering the nature of the bush in South Africa, using a UAV in an anti-poaching capacity will only help Denel in developing their technology for counter-insurgency operations, a highly marketable theatre of operations. I’d argue for the weaponisation of these vehicles to remain non-lethal to avoid any potential ethical conflicts that may arise, and to remove the possibility of fatalities arising from mistaken identity/intent. There is nothing to say however that a potent cocktail of paint and pepper balls (or a variation thereof) couldn’t be employed. I have no sympathy with poachers, but would hate to see such a brilliant program, should it deploy, end up grounded thanks to the fact that a poacher got exactly what he deserved, or immeasurably worse, an innocent get what they most definitely did not deserve.

  2. Tyler
    26 November 2010 at 5:05 pm

    I would think that anyone who sets out to poach rhinos is likely to be armed with a rifle that enables him/her to accurately shoot a large caliber, high velocity bullet at a chosen target some distance away. How difficult is it for the poacher to turn the gun and shoot the UAV?

    • 27 November 2010 at 11:44 am

      “How difficult is it for the poacher to turn the gun and shoot the UAV?”
      It is ridiculously difficult to shot down a small helo drone even when using gatling. The targetting is the key, the target is absurdally small, far, not easily detectable and moving even when the operators don’t want it to.

  3. John L.
    27 November 2010 at 10:18 am

    I have considered running hunting expeditions to take out the poachers. Since many poachers are killed in the field, why not make a game out of it! Airfare, ground transportation, a nice clean hotel, tips included, and at the end a Human head to put on the wall in your den!

    • Matt
      30 November 2010 at 9:27 pm

      Book me a ticket to that safari.
      Not so keen on the trophy, Collection of trigger fingers will suffice.

  4. Rory Paul
    29 November 2010 at 4:40 am

    I would have considered a fixed wing system a better solution for the size of territory involved. I suppose its a case of a the minister being beguiled by the possibility of a nice fat kick back.

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