The poaching of endangered animals is nothing short of tragic, and very few safeguards seem to be having a huge impact on the state of things.
In the past, drones have been utilised to combat the situation to great effect, and yesterday startup Airwave announced the results of a successful field trial conducted at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya, which is the largest Black Rhino sanctuary in East Africa.
Airwave used specialized drones during their field trial that can monitor huge areas of land to ultimately help protect rhinos against poachers.
Throughout the course of the two-week trial two types of drone – both fixed wing and flexible wing aircraft – were used. Ultimately the drones will be able to help the park rangers save more time and make their job of monitoring the park that much easier.
The drones are kitted with infrared cameras for nighttime surveillance and electro-optical cameras during the day. The drones fly very low, between 30m and 120m above ground, which allows them to capture enormous detail. According to Jonathan Downey, CEO and founder of Airwave, “Using infrared we can easily spot a campfire being used by poachers, who often come in to the park at night. The level of detail is such that we can see an elephant’s trunk change from white to black after he takes a drink of cold water.”
The project has been hailed as a success, and the Ol Pejeta conservancy did raise $46,000 on Indigogo for the Airwave test, but unfortunately it does not intend to keep the drones in the air, citing the continued costs of the initiative. Hopefully, with leaps in technology like Airwave showed is possible, the use of poacher-monitoring drones will be given more consideration in future.
Source: The Verge