Articles

Drones track endangered wildlife in Australian reserve

January 6, 2020


We’re out at Mulligans Flat Woodland Sanctuary
and we’re here to radio track Bettongs. Over the last two and a half years we’ve been building
and testing a drone to radio track wildlife. This is something that hasn’t been achieved
before anywhere in the world. It’s not a simple problem, but we believe that we’ve come up
with a solution to that. What we’ve done is bought an off-the-shelf drone and taken the
camera payload off that drone and replaced it with a custom receiver system. It enables
us to fly a very small, lightweight, and portable drone and be able to go anywhere in the landscape
and track wildlife in any number of areas. For a researcher it enables us to follow the
movements of animals, so that’s never been possible before, and for a land manager it
may enable them to actually locate pest species or identify den sites. Although that is possible
from on the ground, if we can do it in a more efficient way and with out as much man power
required, then we can reduce the cost and increase the efficiency of those management
techniques. Adrian: So if you’ve got two operators working, and they can put the drone up
and do that in two bursts of 20 minutes or something like that, tracking of that type
would’ve taken you half a day or more. So you can see if the technology can work it’s
going to save us so much more time and we can track more Bettongs or whatever other
animals, using that technology. Debra: Because it’s such a flexible system, it can be applied
in so many ways and different circumstances. So I think the future is bright. We’ve had
interest from all around the world in applying this system. We need to get it fine tuned,
but we’ve achieved more than has ever been achieved before, so it’s been exciting.

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