Wildlife Drones helping to protect endangered species

In a world first, drones have been used to successfully radio-track critically endangered Sunda Pangolins in Vietnam. In November 2019, technology start-up Wildlife Drones collaborated with Save Vietnam’s Wildlife and the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Saving Species project, using technology that is revolutionising the way animals are tracked.

Based at the Centre for Entrepreneurial Agri-Technology (CEAT) Innovation Hub, Wildlife Drones have developed a radio-tracking drone system that can locate tagged animals from the air. With this new technology, Wildlife Drones are improving the way wildlife and invasive species are studied and managed.

Pangolins are one of the world’s most trafficked mammals and their populations are rapidly declining across South East Asia and parts of Africa.

To combat this issue, Save Vietnam’s Wildlife rescues and rehabilitates hundreds of poached animals each year so they can be released back into the wild.

Prior to being released, the Pangolins are fitted with a radio-tag that allows their movements to be tracked. “But the problem is that up until now, we have had to manually track one animal at a time on foot within remote and rugged landscapes . . . [this] severely limited the number of animals we could monitor,” said Nguyen Van Thai, the Executive Director of Save Vietnam’s Wildlife.

Wildlife Drones’ innovative radio-tracking system enables users to rapidly search large areas and locate multiple tagged Pangolins from the air, saving time and effort for the team at Save Vietnam’s Wildlife.

“Our research team can now monitor up to one hundred pangolins all at the same time. It not only enables us to track more animals than ever before, but the information we gain will help us optimise the way we rehabilitate and release more animals in the future,” said Mr Nguyen. 

Image credit: Wildlife Drones Australia

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