05 Sep Wildlife Conservation looks at a New Lease of Life in Drones
Sky is the limit, they say. However, for Wildlife Conservationists, sky might be that one spectrum that could unshackle all their land-borne limitations. Courtesy drones. While the idea of drones is not altogether novel, a progressive approach toward embracing it and propagating its regulated usage has taken the world of conservationists by a pleasant storm.
One of the foremost advantages of drones is ability to access inaccessible areas that has made remote surveillance comprehensive and powerful. This also enables tracking unlawful activities in real-time. Drones help deter poaching, illegal trafficking, unauthorised fishing, illegal felling of trees, and other activities, besides facilitating the necessary monitoring of endangered species, deployed staff and identification of land boundaries.
Drones, moreover, allow high definition imagery and accumulation of accurate data that aid research and appropriate allocation of resources. A precise assessment of population and the quality of flora & fauna are made possible too. Civil issues like monitoring border safety, identifying illegal mining, tourist control etc., are other problems that drones could help ease.
Also, drones are effective in mitigating human-animal conflict in many situations. The available perspective makes it clear so as to make specific GPS backed markings to locate animals crossings. Simply speaking, drones are great for getting the bigger picture. They help cover large area and can use a multitude of cameras (Night-vision and thermal) to provide accurate data thus making the whole process scientific, free of loopholes and encouraging. The burgeoning progress that the use of drones has made sees live testaments in wild life reserves from around the world – be it Kenya or in Nepal. One such success story may be traced back to Pench Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh. After the completion of the pilot project in Panna Tiger Reserve in 2013, Pench has been the first reserve to unlock its full potential with multiple rounds of surveillance providing encouraging results.
To further the benefit of drones in Pench, IoraPro, a Bangalore based video production company that is well known for championing wild life causes, took the initiative to conduct a 5 day training programme. This programme was targeted at forest reserve guards/foot soldiers in order to make the most of drones and understand its multi-faceted advantages.
The training methodology deployed a balanced combination of theoretical and practical training on Quadcopter. The theoretical aspects included necessary focus on parts, dynamics, simulations, control and common mistakes to avoid. This was followed by practical sessions with short flight exercises. Once given the required training, they could very well assimilate the difference between legitimate uses of drones, as against uncouth intrusion. This is proof enough that the negative light surrounding the use of drones is mostly superficial. Most importantly, empowering those in immediate control, the foot soldiers in this case, will have long lasting impact on the welfare of Wild Life Conservation.
Srinivas Reddy envisions “Drone are effective for tracing location of forest fire, illegal grazing on fringes of PA s/ tiger reserves. Hope fully, very soon, it will become a part of tool kit for front line staff. Pench tiger reserve is ready to adopt new advance technologies for the protection of wildlife and its habitat Now we are proud that our forest staff are using drone successfully to keep watch on inaccessible parts of the protected areas.