By PRESS ASSOCIATION and HARRY PETTIT FOR MAILONLINE PUBLISHED: 13:20 EDT, 3 April 2018 | UPDATED: 06:45 EDT, 4 April 2018 Adapted from this article
Technology used by Nasa for studying faint stars and galaxies could be used to trap poachers in a rare collaboration between astronomers and ecologists.
The system combines flying drones, infra-red thermal imaging, and artificial intelligence to monitor animals at night when most poaching occurs.
In an early field trial in South Africa, it was used to detect elusive riverine rabbits, one of the most endangered mammals in the world.
Researchers hope in future the heat-sensitive drones will make it easier to track animals such as rhinos and spot poachers hunting them under cover of darkness.
Project scientist Dr Claire Burke, from Liverpool John Moores University, said: ‘With thermal infrared cameras, we can easily see animals as a result of their body heat, day or night, and even when they are camouflaged in their natural environment.