Long but worth it, Backchannel has a comprehensive update on drones used to combat poaching on land and sea. One interesting data point:
One pilot project in a protected area in Kenya saw a 96 percent reduction in poaching after it began patrolling with drones. Ditto with a WWF-funded project in Nepal, although in the Nepalese case, the drones were part of a larger overhaul in how rangers conducted their business. These successes, plus various other projects in the works, raise the possibility of a major advance in conservation — a leap enabled by drones.
I believe you will not discuss about politics, aha?
Burning the ivory achieves a couple things: publicity, which is invaluable and it removes the cause of bribery, corruption and theft which are enormous problems in Africa. Already stockpiles of rhino horn have been stolen from a wildlife authority (https://www.savetherhino.org/latest_news/news/980_40_rhino_horns_st...) and who knows how many other horns and tusks have "vanished" from these stockpiles in various countries.
An official vehicle was used in Zimababwe recently to move ivory (http://voices.nationalgeographic.com/2015/10/09/zimbabwe-authoritie...).
Selling the tusks also fuels demand by creating a short glut and then as that dissipates the demand increases again.
As far as using drones for anti-poaching Guy is correct in his analysis, I spent 2 years chasing poachers with drones and can count on one hand the times we actually saw a poacher. And it was not for lack of trying using the best commercially available thermal technology while flying hundreds and hundreds of hours in the dead of night in very inhospitable terrain.
In a small reserve of 500 hectares (who don't have the money), current drones stand a small chance of working but some of these parks are 2 million hectares and the chance is incredibly slim for any sort of detection and response or even deterrence.
Sorry, but its just not reasonable -to burn $172mil worth of goods, those are not drugs, so they do not heart people, moreover, its enough money to finance your operations for a few decades based on your estimates. Demand will always bee there.. its just like prostitution, its wrong, but demand is still there and burning that ivory didn't affect it a bit.
@ Guy McCaldin may I suggest asking money from the government which "torches" so much $$$??? maybe they can sell certain portion and help fund your project? I mean those elephants and rhinos are already dead, why waist so much money?
Thought I read an article there are studies where a lot of wildlife gets really stressed with a drone overhead.... Just like my neighbor. :D
500K bucks - really?