Drones could play a significant role in anti-poaching and wildlife conservation

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A two-month-old orphaned baby elephant is given a dust bath by a keeper at Nairobi’s David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. The calf’s mother was killed by poachers. (Photo: AP/Ben Curtis)

An eye in the sky that can help catch wildlife poachers is the dream of many conservationists in Africa.

The fact that drones have the capability to get all up in everyone’s business is turning out to be a good thing in Africa, where they’re being used to patrol for poachers.

The Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya has partnered up with Airware, a San Francisco-based technology company that specializes in drone systems.

Rangers at the base could operate the drone via two laptops, one showing a map tracking the flight path, the other showing the UAV’s point of view through a high-definition camera.

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The computer base for the drones. (Photo: Airware)

The drones are equipped with thermal imaging, which means they can fly at night and can distinctly show the shapes of animals. They also fly quietly so as not to disturb tourists, whose business helps keep wildlife reserves operating.

Rangers are in desperate need of something, anything, to protect their animals. Killing elephants and rhinos for their tusks and horns is a lucrative business that’s been booming lately.

While drones will help, they’re not the end all answer to the poaching problem. The real solution is to quell people’s desires for ivory, and to assist those who feel that ivory trading is their best option for survival.

Still, the drones will be a helpful tool and allow rangers to survey more land in less time. Aside from ridding the area of poachers, they’ll also be used to count animal and plant life. A task that previously took rangers weeks, even months, to do.

If it means the saving animals from poachers, I’m OK with this type of drone surveillance.

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Source | Ryot