Tag Archive | wildlife conservation

Drones against illegal fishing

Dear friends,

Although only five months young, dronologista blog has grown and needs a new attire.

As of 1st of September, dronologista.com moves to a new hosting, new address and slightly changes the appearance . Content will remain the same, and dronologista will continue to provide information about non-military drones only.

Enjoy!

Illegal fishing represents a major global problem. When you realize that the losses caused by this activity are worth US$23 billion per year, that one out of three bluefin tunas are caught illegally and that around 20% of all fish hauled around the world are caught illegally, you are beginning to grasp the scale of this issue. Proportions of the environmental impact, on the other hand, are even more dire, for the fact that even the legal fishing industry that complies with the maritime wildlife protection standards has the capacity to damage this fragile ecosystem. Illegal fishing can completely destroy it.

Efforts are being made on the global scale to tackle this problem, but the challenge persists because patrolling large stretches of coastline takes time and requires substantial number of people, boats and aircraft. Now, almost whenever a manned aircraft is required to perform a task, there is a potential to use unmanned aircraft, and at an increased rate, a UAV has been proved a viable substitution. It seems that there is a pattern emerging 🙂

Back to the topic, one of the countries hardest hit by illegal fishing is Belize, a small coastal country in Central America. It was so rampant, that in the March this year, the European Union suspended all seafood imports from Belize (as well as from Cambodia and Guinea, for the same reason).

Help comes from the ConservationDrones.org, a non-profit organization dedicated to sharing knowledge, building and using UAV for conservation-related applications with conservation workers and researchers worldwide, especially those in developing countries. The Belize Fisheries Department officials are being trained to use drones to monitor fishing areas, following the test phase that started in July 2013.

Fixed wing drones that are being used can fly for over an hour, have a range of 50km and are capable of capturing high-definition photos and videos. They will be used to patrol difficult to reach areas, such as coastal mangrove forests, at a fraction of the cost of a conventional, manned aircraft. Once the illegal activity is located, authorities can dispatch a vessel and perform a seagoing search, much more efficiently.

It will be interesting to see effects of this new tactics used against “pirate” fishers, and how soon will Belize start to reap the benefits of it (e.g. lifting of EU seafood import ban).

Last but not the least, drones provided by ConservationDrones.org should provide a much-needed, low-cost solution for the protection of one of the world’s most famous coral reefs, Glover’s Reef.

For further reading, check interesting articles on Gizmag, National Geographic and New York Times.

Video courtesy of ConservationDrones.org

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Wildlife Conservation UAV Challenge

Dear friends,

Although only five months young, dronologista blog has grown and needs a new attire.

As of 1st of September, dronologista.com moves to a new hosting, new address and slightly changes the appearance . Content will remain the same, and dronologista will continue to provide information about non-military drones only.

Enjoy!

Poaching and wildlife trafficking is third largest illegal business worldwide, behind drugs and weapons. In South Africa, home of the almost three-quarters of world wild rhinoceros and is incredibly important country for rhino conservation. Unfortunately, during the recent years, rhino poaching was spreading exponentially due to the fact that the rhino horns are valued on the black market higher that gold.

 

Recorded number of rhins poached in South Africa

Recorded number of rhins poached in South Africa

In order to assist wildlife rangers protecting rhinos, Wildlife Conservation UAV Challenge has been set up. The founder of the Challenge and the CEO of Kashmir Robotics, Princess Alliyah envisions a fleet of small drones to patrol the skies, providing rangers with the information they need to protect endangered species from poachers.

Challenge Logo

Challenge Logo

 

So far there are 140 teams worldwide, taking up the challenge based on simulated wildlife poaching and trafficking activities. Each Challenge scenario will consist of three phases:

  • phase one – each team will propose a concept that includes aircraft, sensors, embedded systems, communications and operational concepts
  • phase two – teams will fabricate their aircraft, demonstrate air worthiness and safety at their local designated flying fields
  • phase three – teams will compete in the Challenge scenario. Specifics of the scenario  will not be released until the morning of the competition, so teams need to be prepared to adjust their flight profiles, sensor parameters and data processing as needed.

The winning design will be used in counter poaching activities in Kruger National Park in South Africa. Prizes for the top three teams (beside the feeling that they are doing something good for the mankind) are:

  1. $35.000 and a 10 day all-inclusive trip to the Kruger National Park
  2. $20.000
  3. $10.000

Hopefully, this challenge and the winning UAV will improve the rhino protection. The problem might be that criminal syndicates might also take notice of the UAV technology, and might just start using their own drones to locate wildlife and rangers, in order to further develop their ugly business. When that happens, Wildlife Conservation UAV Challenge needs to be elevated on the next level, and UAV design will need to include means of detection, identification and incapacitation of potentially hostile drones.

Pictures courtesy of Wildlife Conservation UAV Challenge and Save The Rhino.