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Working Solutions
Rhino poaching
curbed by drones.

Unmanned
Aerial Vehicles:

A tool of modern conservation.

Limited resources and fast depleting wildlife have called for collaboration between the Aerial technology sector and wildlife protection agencies to come up with a solution to the massive poaching problem Africa faces today. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are becoming a pivotal element in curbing this problem through an array of solutions offered. Not only can they be used for spotting and deterring poachers, they are used for data collection, mapping of habitats, monitoring of group size and health, perimeter surveillance, inspecting of equipment and accessing security threats.

UAVs are not replacements for rangers; they are a tool used to increase efficiency, reaction speed, accuracy and results and decrease spending, hassle and cost of life (both animal and human). They are an expansion of the security team deployed in a highly dangerous situation, used to protect and assist rangers with completing their task in the safest way possible. They are assisting with real time footage on scene, live. The information collected offers the team of conservationists an advantage over poachers by placing visibility on the scene and tracking on-goings remotely, where a team of experts and strategists can formulate plans and provide useful feedback to ground troops. Without fail any insalubrious activities cease immediately upon sighting a UAV and an attack is averted. It is also then possible to track assailants and drastically increase apprehensions and arrests.

UAVs act as wildlife police, scoping out poachers before they attempt an attack. Aerial surveillance is already employed in remote areas where endangered species like elephants and rhinoceroses are most vulnerable to illegal trafficking. The very presence of an eye-in-the-sky deters potential poachers, using visible policing at a tool to stop an attack before it happens. With expansive areas to cover it is difficult for rangers on the ground to spot and apprehend poachers- the natural progression in the fight against poaching is for large areas to be covered on a regular basis; keeping a watchful presence at all times.

Not only is the-eye-in-the-sky a massive deterrent to opportunists and syndicates alike. The tools available can be used to identify, by collating information and statistics gathered through photogrammetry and HD footage, areas which are under threat. Being used for perimeter checks, thermal imaging and inspections of fencing; UAVs are the most efficient, cost effective way of surveying in real time. It is not possible for man to observe vast expanses for the amount of time needed to prevent these crimes. Ensuring perimeter security is impermeable is a crucial factor in preventing these crimes, should UAVs be deployed it would allow for valuable human resources to be allocated elsewhere which increases the efficiency of the rangers and anti-poaching units.

Traditional solutions have been found to be tricky, costly, labour intensive, ineffective and are potentially damaging to the environment. UAVs are being used to bridge the gap between man and wild by emulating nature itself. UAVs are a solution; circumventing problems without creating new ones. UAV technology is a modern solution which aspires to replicate what we observe in nature to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles in an efficient, more environmentally friendly way. UAVs are run on batteries and thus can drastically reduce carbon emissions cause by traditional forms of data capturing (helicopters, planes, ground vehicles).

References
Qiu, L 2014. Can Drones Help Save Wildlife Around the World?. Available from: .[26 February 2015].

The UAV is an acronym for Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, 2015. Available from: . [26 February 2015].

Shahani, A 2013. The Green Side of Drones: Science and Environmental Apps Abound. Available from: .[25 February 2015]

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