Drones In Wildlife Conservation

Guest Article by Amanda Shaffer of Advexure    (https://advexure.com)

The use of drone technology has proven very useful in wildlife conservation. Numerous wildlife scientists have turned to drones as their source of data collection to monitor habitat changes in parcels of land. And create 3D models of vegetation intended for locating possible nesting bushes for different kinds of wildlife including moose, deer, bears and migratory birds.

IMG_1885Shifting from the traditional way of surveying habitats and monitoring wildlife, wildlife scientists can save time by no longer measuring total land on foot and ensuring their own safety, and the safety of the animals, avoiding close encounters, while still getting high resolution video and images of the land and its inhabitants.

In remote places like Alaska, finding suitable habitats for endangered wildlife would mean ice climbing and trekking on uneven terrain without much of a support system, and with a very small window of opportunity. This requires one to be peak physical form, and takes a great deal of time and requires a great deal of luck as well. With drone technology, the right knowledge and techniques, data collection can be accurate and up-to-date through remote sensors in the drone camera. Photos and videos taken of a piece of land with incredible features like 10x zoom, and georeferencing, can capture the area easily and download the data straight to the computer.

Drone technology is an alternative tool for making habitat research convenient and risk-free for wildlife scientists because it performs difficult tasks such as:

1. Flying At High Altitudes To Get Clear Images of The Land

Alaska, Barren Creek Pano

Mouth of Barren Creek , Prince of Wales Alaska

The right altitude is needed to cover so much ground in surveying land, but animal interference is always a concern, and if the camera is too far away, the data is not as clear as it could be. Different types of drones like quadcopters which have wings similar to a helicopter or drones with fixed wings like planes fly at different speeds and altitudes. It is recommended that quadcopters be used instead of fixed winged drones since the latter can be detected by the wildlife and considered predators or intruders, thus shifting the way the native wildlife lives. The altitude will also directly affect the resolution of your images, so a drone that blends in, or is unassuming will get the best quality results.

2. Detecting Objects, Persons, Animals And Measuring Height And Temperature Through Remote Sensors

Drones have varied remote sensors that can perform tasks like measuring the height of an object, detecting animals, persons or objects in the vicinity even through foliage and ice, and measuring temperature changes. All these can be controlled through your drone application software and the data can be sent directly to your computer or phone. Drone technology remote sensors can be classified into Lidar, Thermal, Hyperspectral, Multispectral and Visual. If you would like a more thorough run down of these sensors and how they function, check out this drone technology website.

3. Get Closer To Wildlife Without Intrusion

Wildlife is often very sensitive to newcomers, even a foot step can scare them off or threaten them. Data collection at this stage of 2018 is crucial so its best to have a drone that has reduced noise to better monitor habitat changes, and normal animal activity. Drones also have the ability to hide immediately and for a period of time if ever animals are suspicious of the drone activity.

4. Make 3D Models and Maps

2017-09-18_111334Once you’ve captured enough images, thermal or otherwise, you can turn this information into useful data with platforms for commercial drones like DroneDeploy. This app produces a flight plan and informs one of safety precautions before flying. It also has the ability to crop and stitch photos to form a unique model as well. For wildlife conservation, this can generate potential new habitats for endangered species and help wildlife scientists label boundaries for travellers.

There are still so many undiscovered uses of drones in wildlife conservation. The type of drones used all depend on the needs of the wildlife scientists. For climates like in Alaska, it is advised to fly below clouds because the resulting moisture that could break the rotors. As this technology develops further, more information will be gathered about ecosystems, changing habitats and temperatures of remote, exotic, unknown places. All of this data will help to protect this beautiful land and the animals who also call it home.

Before securing your own drone, you need to be a certified drone pilot and accomplish requirements under the Federal Aviation Administration Industry (FAA). Registration of drones should also be done through the FAA website.