Drone technology being used to prevent poaching of African rhinos | Tunde Folawiyo

March 10, 2014 Editor Tunde Folawiyotunde folawiyo africatunde folawiyo executivetunde folawiyo oiltunde folawiyo profileUncategorized

The poaching of rhinos is a serious issue in Africa; last year alone, 668 rhinos were lost in South Africa, whilst a further 50 were killed in Kenya. This is something which is likely to worry Tunde Folawiyo and others who are concerned about wildlife conservation. The good news is that several conservation groups, including the WWF and Ol Pejeta, are now taking action to prevent future poaching. Both organisations have said that they will be using drones to protect rhinos across Africa.

Tunde Folawiyo

The WWF announced that, by the end of 2014, it would be setting up a drone surveillance system to watch over these vulnerable animals in at least one African country. In addition to this, it intends to provide rangers with handheld observation devices, and use mobile phone tracking technology.

Ol Pejeta – one of the largest sanctuaries for black rhinos – is also taking measures to prevent the poaching of these creatures. It has partnered up with a company called Airware, to develop a drone which will watch over rhinos.  The drone uses Airware’s autopilot platform to survey herds and would-be poachers; thermal images and real-time digital video feeds are then transmitted back to park rangers.

If a poacher is detected, the drone will alert the security team hired by Ol Pejeta. This drone technology will also be used to monitor wildlife population numbers and behaviour, which in turn, will make it easier for the sanctuary to keep track of whether or not a particular species’ is on the decline.

A number of tests have been carried out at the sanctuary already; the flight team from Airware who are working with Ol Pejeta have been experimenting with various airframes, including flying-wing and fixed-wing. They have also carried out demonstrations of the drones’ wheeled and bungee launches, and its wheeled and parachute landings. Additionally, they have established a number of contingency plans which they can employ, should there ever be a loss of communication between the drone and the rangers.

Although further modifications and testing will need to be carried out before the drone – aptly named the Aerial Ranger – can be used, the field tests indicate that this technology will work well, and be a great help to park rangers. In a press conference, Airware explained that they were pleased with the fact that the prototype they have been experimenting with has been able to withstand Kenya’s high temperatures and rugged landscape, adding that these devices would be made available to rangers in the very near future – a fact which is likely to please many conservation enthusiasts, including Tunde Folawiyo.

Aerial RangerAfrican rhinosAirware's autopilot platformBlack rhinocerosdrone surveillancedrone technologyOl Pejetapreventing African rhino poachingTunde Folawiyotunde folawiyo africatunde folawiyo executivetunde folawiyo film festivaltunde folawiyo profileWWF

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