poaching network

How to Fight Poachers With Drones and Big Data

“Drones Fight Poachers" has an undeniable sexiness to it as a news narrative. Who doesn’t want to read about flying killer robots battling machete-wielding criminals chasing innocent animals on the wild African plains? The instant appeal of a high-tech solution to a pervasive low-tech problem is also why Silicon Valley giant Google has given the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) $5 million for drones to stop poaching. But to actually stop poachers, WWF should focus less on drones and more on math—and some lessons learned in Iraq and Afghanistan.

University of Maryland computer scientist Thomas Snitch is applying a mathematical forecasting model he developed for use by the military in Iraq and Afghanistan to Africa. Snitch is trying to overcome poaching networks’ advantages in money, opportunity, and manpower using his military model to put park rangers in the right places to intercept rhinoceros killers.

Read more. [Image: Edward Echwalu/Reuters]