The US Army is preparing to use drones in Africa to target poaching, illegal wildlife trade and drug trafficking networks, the Pentagon announced on Wednesday.
US military officials said the new mission will include Predator drones that will carry out surveillance missions in Africa’s remote, tropical rainforests, and could be used to gather intelligence and collect evidence.
The Predator drones will not be used for intelligence gathering, but they will have the capability to fly at high altitudes, according to a statement from the Pentagon.
US officials said they would also be equipped with surveillance and reconnaissance equipment.
In addition, the drones will carry surveillance sensors and video cameras that can be used in the field, and will be able to track wildlife, according the statement.
“The Predator will be a versatile and capable unmanned aircraft system that will provide a valuable capability to our Armed Forces,” the statement said.
US troops are also expected to be involved in a campaign to tackle illegal wildlife trafficking, a US Department of Defense spokesperson told AFP news agency.”US military personnel have been involved in wildlife enforcement operations around the world and have been responsible for significant success in combating wildlife trafficking and other illicit activities, including drug trafficking and human trafficking,” the spokesperson said.
“The Predators have also been used to assist in wildlife recovery operations, and have helped to combat wildlife extinctions in several countries,” the spokesman said.