After months of keeping a low profile, an American dentist who became a subject of disdain from lovers of wildlife for shooting Zimbabwe’s beloved lion called Cecil is getting ready to return to work. There had been a huge public outcry and a petition was even sent to the White House to extradite Walter J. Palmer, the dentist who shot the lion.
In Palmer’s chat with the Minneapolis Star Tribune and the Associated Press, he said that he had depended on his guides to “ensure a legal hunt” and that the tracking device the animal was wearing was not easily noticeable at night.
Incidents like that do not need to repeat itself as government and wildlife organizations are looking to make drones defenders of animals. Over the past few years, drones usage has been on the rise in the protection of wildlife around the world.
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In India, it once happened that 22 rhinos were killed in Kaziranga National Park. The Indian federal government granted $7 million in aid to help guard the vulnerable species. The work of the park’s guards who are tasked with monitoring 330 square miles was made easier with the help of the drone. The drones have camera features and they fly at regular intervals so that guards can have the chance to keep an eye on the grounds for armed poachers.
In Tanzania, a week was spent by DJI teaching park rangers how to fly the Phantom line of drones so that elephants could easily be steered away from farmland. While the battle between poachers and wildlife is in existence, farmers trying to grow crops and hungry elephants looking for meal are having another tug-of-war.
Most elephants in Tanzania have lost their habitat and this has brought about a lot of elephants wandering into farmlands to feed on the crops grown by the farmers, thereby ruining the crops. To protect their crops, some farmers have killed the elephants between 2010 and 2012, as reported by National Geographic magazine.
It has, however, been discovered that the sound of drones scares elephants as it has the sound of a buzzing beehive. A park in Tanzania became the test site for a “drone herding” approach, where rangers fly 3-pound drones near elephants in a controlled way.
“It’s sort of tough love,” biologist David Olsen said in a DJI news release. “If we don’t keep the elephants out, there are many cases of reprisals against them. This is actually really a good thing for the elephants to deter them from going into the crops.”
In Kenya, to protect Rhinos, San Fransisco–based startup Airware, which builds applications to use drones for aerial data collection, conducted field tests of drones designed to protect rhinos from the threat of poachers in Kenya
Airware has an autopilot platform and its software is controlled to send real-time digital video and thermal imaging feeds of animals and poachers to rangers that are on the ground. Then that information allows the conservancy’s rangers to send a security team to that exact location where poaching is happening.