To save elephants from poachers, Air Shepherd will use the latest military drone technology and predictive software to spot illicit hunters before they can do more damage.
To support Air Shepherd's IndieGoGo campaign to use drones for the good of elephants and rhinos, click HERE, and take a look at the video, below:
More than 40,000 African elephants were killed by poachers in 2013; that horrific statistic is matched by the 1,100 rhinoceroses also killed, their tusks and horns used for trinkets. If the rate of killing continues at this pace, African elephants will be extinct within a decade.
Enter the Charles A. and Anne Morrow and Lindbergh Foundation - one of the many NGOs fighting for these endangered species. Their approach is unique, as illustrated in the current Indiegogo.com campaign, which ends April 11, 2015. (Ellen DeGeneres, Moby and Alicia Silverstone have all lent their support to the cause.)
The funds raised in the campaign will be used for a significant goal: to stop poachers in their tracks using technology in service of the environment. In this case, small un-manned planes or drones will serve as mobile watchdogs. Because they are guided by analytics that use years of data on elephant migratory patterns and poachers routes, they can have a huge effect. The drones are designed to serve as any eyes in the sky in remote areas where both elephants and their human predators are located. Once poachers are spotted, rangers are sent in.
John L. Peterson, chairman of the Lindbergh Foundation, explains he came up with idea a couple of years ago, as the Foundation has long supported the Kenya Wildlife Service by providing the organization with night vision goggles for use in low flying aircraft. “For years their airplanes were being shot down by poachers and I wondered if there was another way to deal with poaching, which almost always happens at night,” he recalled recently in an interview with NotImpossibleNow.com. “It occurred to me drones with infrared cameras might be applicable,” he explains.
The kicker to the drones’ efficacy is analytic software developed at the University of Maryland, which can predict with high accuracy where poachers are likely to be. To date, the technology has been tested on more than 600 missions, and seven African countries have already asked for support. Crowdfunding will take the system and manpower further into the field. The funds raised in the current Indiegogo campaign will be used to support a team in Southern Africa’s Ezemvelo KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife area, known for its rhinoceros population. “$500,000 funds a whole team for a year: two people, three airplanes and an outfitted support vehicle,” says Peterson. Infrared technology reveals the poachers’ heat signature and rangers can be pre-positioned. Both digital videos and still images are sent back to the team, who are covering “huge swaths of territory,” says Petersen.
“It’s a race against time,” contends Petersen. “They’ll all be gone within a decade at the rate they’re being killed; we’re trying to get in there first.”
All photos courtesy of UAV and Drone Solutions (UDS); YouTube video courtesy of Air Shepherd.
For additional information, contact the Lindbergh Foundation: http://www.thelindberghfoundation.org