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Sophisticated drone technology can help in the fight against wildlife poaching

Published on: 27-Feb-2015

“100,000 African elephants were killed the last 3 years, according to National Geographic”

This year, a new initiative to count elephants and study their moves takes place under supervision of Microsoft co-founder, Mr. Paul G. Allen. The Census Project will help conservationists in long-term management planning.

Poachers vs aerial sensors
Already poachers use helicopters to hunt the elephants down and soon they will discover how to jam the Drone navigation devices in order to let them crash.

Sophisticated small fixed-wing Drones equipped with high tech navigation systems, cutting edge sensors and camera systems are needed if we want to play a substantial role into the next level of the battle against poaching wild life.

Stealth operation
To ensure stealth operation, together with bright vision, these Drones best operate after sunset, ensuring the best contrast for the infra-red imaging sensors. Elephants and rhino’s give a large contrast footprint, where poachers obviously give a smaller one, supplemented with an often higher color temperature image, due to the fact of using vehicles and camp-fires.

Cattle thieves
A side application could be the use of this technology to track down cattle and harvest thieves, as they often operate during night-time and operate in obvious patterns.

Additional detection equipment attached to the Drone can track & trace mobile telephone or radio communication of the perpetrators.

Discreet operations
Unfortunately there are examples, where local authorities were actively involved in undermining operations. Programs to detect or prevent poaching and thieving must be organized in a way that only a small ever changing group knows the details of field operations.

Professional approach
Long flight-operation on high altitudes manages to monitor very large areas. Moreover it prevents discovery by poachers and cattle thieves, however this elevates operational investment.

Serious programs, involving remote sensing by using drones, always demand intensive organization and cooperation between all stake holders. Added with educational programs it can seriously contribute in the reduction of such forms of organized criminality.

By Ruud van der Lem, is a specialist in providing solutions in remote sensing and cooperates with the security and drone industry.

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