Drones Protect Endangered Species, Feed Humans in Need

February 21, 2017Posted by Helaina Hovitz

Drones are making it easier than ever to save the lives of both people and animals by watching and tracking poachers in Africa.

Air Shepherd uses unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) — the proper name for “drones” — to watch and track poachers. So effective, in fact, that in places where once there were as many as 12 rhinos killed every month. Pouncer, the “edible drone,” features wings packed with food and a frame made partly of edible fiber. Other parts can be used for firewood or to build shelter. They can be dropped from cargo planes, fly 25 miles, and land within 22 feet of the people they’re meant to help.


Rhino deaths once as high as 12 a month dropped to zero after Air Shepherd started their flights. The organization has flown more than 6,000 missions to protect endangered elephants and rhinos in South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Malawi. Mozambique, Botswana, and Zambia have asked them to expand operations into their countries.

An interesting aside — Air Shepherd is part of the Lindberg Foundation, founded by Charles Lindberg, the first person to fly solo and non-stop across the Atlantic Ocean. Lindberg famously ate only half a sandwich on his 27-hour flight into the history books. People in need could soon feast on a whole new take on “airline food” – Pouncer — Windhorse Aerospace’s “edible drone.”

Windhorse Pouncer

Each one costs about six-hundred dollars and is designed to carry supplies for civilians trapped in war zones or disaster areas unreachable by other means or too dangerous to reach in a manned aircraft. The wings are actually made out of food and other vital supply packets fitted into an airframe made partly of edible fiber.

Pouncer 2

Pouncers can be dropped from cargo planes, fly 25 miles, and land within 22 feet of the people they’re meant to help. As for the parts you can’t eat, those can be used for firewood or to build shelter.

This is the latest in a string of initiatives geared at using drones to deliver blood, birth control and other medical supplies to villages in Africa where roads are unreliable.

Check out the videos below from Air Shepherd and Windhorse Aerospace.

Air Shepherd: Help Us Give Elephants and Rhinos Wings

Windhorse Aerospace:

Photo credits: Air Shepherd, Windhorse Aerospace

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