On Tuesday, June 17, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society unveiled its plan, called Operation GrindStop 2014, to curb the routine hunting of pilot whales in the Danish Faroe Islands by utilizing drone technology for both surveillance and live streaming of the operation.
The land-based operation will primarily focus on highlighting and publicizing the annual hunt, which occurs between June and October each year, while also serving to discourage participation in it. Sea Shepherd will employ hundreds of volunteers to operate both the fleet of boats as well as the fleet of drones to be deployed.
The drone network “will allow us to cover the more than two dozen beaches in the Faeroes where whales may be killed,” said Paul Watson, founder of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, in an email to ReaderSupportedNews.org. “The Faeroes present some logistical challenges, and we need to be able to deploy in such a way that all possible kill sites are monitored at all times.”
Watson has also indicated that the drones will be used to detect and monitor the locations of travelling pods of pilot whales in order to utilize the Society’s boats to warn the whales away from the Islands’ beaches.
This is far from the first time that drone technology has been utilized for conservation efforts. Drones are proving to be an increasingly beneficial way to track endangered species, while simultaneously maintaining the integrity of natural habitats and not endangering the lives of conservation personnel.
Drones are actively being utilized around the world to discourage and ultimately help apprehend poachers. Recent efforts have seen drone systems come online in India, Nepal, and Panama to aid in the conservation of endangered populations.
Nepal’s drone conservation efforts are perhaps among the most robust in the world, with teams of personnel dedicated to using drones to monitor the health and security of rare tigers, elephants, and rhinoceri. Within two major national parks in Nepal, said Diwakar Chapagain, coordinator of the wildlife trade monitoring program for WWF Nepal, to Scientific American in a phone interview, “The message to the public is that anyone going into the park can be monitored. Their picture can be taken by the UAV and, later on, they can be arrested. That will be a deterrent.”
The goals in the Nepalese, Indian, and other global conservation efforts are similar to those of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society in the Faroe Islands: to ensure the safety of the conservation volunteers involved in the campaign while also shedding light on, and recording for future use, the abuse and destruction of protected wildlife across the globe.
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