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South Africa tries aircraft to chase rhino poachers


South Africa tries aircraft to chase rhino poachers

More than 550 rhinos have been killed by poachers in South Africa this year, a record high, and that has wildlife officials turning to a new tool to track poachers. The country got its first Seeker Seabird surveillance plane recently, equipped with thermal cameras to find poachers before they kill rhinos. South African rhino deaths have soared in recent years as organized criminal groups have started exporting rhino ivory to Asia, where it is believed to have medicinal benefits. The ivory sells for more than $40,000 per pound. The Seabird is a two-seat pusher prop that can cruise as slow as 65 knots and stay in the air for seven hours at that speed. The plane will be used primarily over a large game preserve in South Africa that is home to several thousand rhinos. Spotters on the plane will direct officials on the ground to poachers’ locations in an effort to make more arrests before the poachers kill their targets.,0,3740191.story