Conservationists have a problem: How can a researcher nimbly observe an endangered animal in minute detail without upsetting their natural behavior or scaring them off? In addition, how can conservationists get a “big picture” view of how such animals move, behave and interact with the environment.
The answer can be found in Sumatra, where researchers are using photography drones to track the behavior and movements of beleaguered orangutans. This kind of cutting edge weapon in the fight for species protection is being led by Conservation Drones, an international coalition that “seeks to share knowledge of building and using low-cost unmanned aerial vehicles for conservation-related applications with conservation workers and researchers worldwide, especially those in developing countries.” The group, spearheaded by primate biologist Serge Wich, is responsible for the Sumatran project (VIDEO).
As reported recently in DroneLife, drones are already in the field helping wildlife researchers monitor felines within the Panna Tiger Reserve in India. Not only can drones monitor wildlife health, they can also help law enforcement stop poachers. Conservation drone projects have already taken flight in Nepal and Panama.
Conservation drones are not without their enemies. The Committee Against Bird Slaughter reports that, in April, hunters in Malta shot down a drone deployed by a German television station. The drone was tasked with discovering illegal trapping sites used to capture endangered birds in a Maltese sanctuary. “Despite a total ban on trapping, [the drone] has already detected and filmed four active trapping installations from the air,” the report noted.
In the U.S., national park rangers see drones as a possible hindrance to wildlife development. Park officials at Yosemite National Park reminded the public that all drone use, even for research, was prohibited.
“Drones can be extremely noisy, and can impact the natural soundscape,” park officials claim. “Drones can also impact the wilderness experience for other visitors creating an environment that is not conducive to wilderness travel.” However, in Kenya, park wildlife officials plan to launch drones across its 52 national parks to stop wildlife poaching.
Jason is a longstanding contributor to DroneLife with an avid interest in all things tech. He focuses on anti-drone technologies and the public safety sector; police, fire, and search and rescue.
Beginning his career as a journalist in 1996, Jason has since written and edited thousands of engaging news articles, blog posts, press releases and online content.
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