Drones are the craze that’s sweeping the photography world, and now they are not only being used to capture stills of wildlife, but to protect it.
Controversially used by the military and increasingly so by professional photographers snapping awe-inspiring aerial footage of landscapes from above, they are now being deployed as an innovative method of conserving wildfire.
If you haven’t seen the kind of footage a well-piloted drone camera is capable of producing, check out this clip from underwater photographer and dive instructor, Tristan Gale. Tristan spent three and a half years diving on the Great Barrier Reef and during that time captured some incredible footage of the reef from a birds eye view.
Lian Pin Koh and Serge Wich, founders of ConservationDrones.org, originally started making drones to use to photograph Orangutangs while studying them in the dense rain forests of Sumatra. Since then they have been used as an easy and relatively inexpensive way of tracking poachers in Africa, and researching whale movements from the sky. Not for profit marine organisation Sea Shepherd has even used them to monitor whaling vessels from afar. Drones are well suited to aiding biologists and conservation groups as they can cover more ground than rangers on foot, simultaneously recording data and taking high quality images. As the technology behind this equipment continues to improve and the cost continues to go down, drones will become more regularly and widely used by environmental groups.
Scuba diving in Mexico is high up on any scuba divers bucket list, and has crystal clear water and is home to an abundance of marine life. Off the coast of Mexico drones will be deployed in the hopes of protecting nesting sea turtles and their eggs. Olive Ridley sea turtles return year after year to the beaches of Oaxaca to nest, and whilst the sale of meat and turtle products has been banned for the past twenty years, this illegal activity still goes on.
According to the the Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection, poachers who ransack around 20 nests will come back with a haul of 2, 000 or so eggs, and these have hefty price tags attached, going for between $600 and $1000 pesos (up to $60 US per nest) on the black market.
Of every 1000 eggs that are laid by these critically endangered turtles, only one will actually make it to the open ocean and reach adulthood. The drones will be utilised to ensure illegal poaching of this sea turtle population doesn’t continue, and that this species can continue to survive.