By Katie Collins
Kenya's Ol Pejeta wildlife conservancy, which shelters four of the world's seven remaining northern white rhinos, is nearly ready to launch its first anti-poaching drone, thanks to a successful Indiegogo campaign.
The campaign launched earlier this year and reached its target of $35,000 (£28,000), which has funded half of the $70,000 (£45,600) cost of the drone. The unmanned aircraft has been adapted especially for conservation purposes by American company Unmanned Innovation to be able to read the RFID tags that are attached to many of the endangered animals in the conservancy.
According to Ol Pejeta's commercial director Rob Breare it was important to make sure the drone was "designed for conservation and not just an off-the-shelf ex-military solution. This allows us to tailor the user interface to our needs and to easily integrate other sensors such as RFID."
The drone will benefit the conservancy in three ways, says Breare. Firstly it will serve as a deterrent to poachers, secondly it will be able to observe and confirm the safety of certain animals using thermal imaging cameras and finally it will be able to track the movements of key animals using radio frequency.
The main problem Ol Pejeta faces is "trying to keep track of endangered species across 36,420 hectares of wilderness and with only a relative handful of rangers," according to Breare. Ol Pejeta has 120 rangers working across an area six times the size of Manhattan. More....