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Modernizing Wildlife Conservation With Aerial Systems

Tracking animal movement is a critical part of wildlife conservation. The animals that live within an ecosystem are key players in its sustainability; thus if we want to preserve space, it helps to understand how its current inhabitants behave in it. Documenting populations and their habitats help us see their patterns and offer protection.

But wildlife monitoring on land traditionally takes a lot of time and money. It’s also risky since it often involves people operating directly in the field, observing or catching animals. However, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) might prove a solution.

Unmanned aerial systems fly over the land rather than working directly on it, mitigating the human risk factor and covering large swathes of land efficiently. UAVs make wildlife data collection easy, so we can better and more safely understand animal behaviors.

But wildlife conservation is only one facet of UAVs’ potential benefits for environmental studies. UAV data also helps predict natural disasters, enabling communities to take necessary precautions ahead of time. Businesses also use aerial imagery to monitor assets such as oil pipelines to prevent leaks.

Ecologically friendly—they run on electricity, rather than gas, and use fewer resources than manned aircraft or land vehicles—UAVs can fly over any terrain, regardless of how steep or densely packed. They’re the solution to the observation problems of yesteryear.

Limitations of Current Wildlife Monitoring Methods

There’s a wide array of wildlife monitoring tools available already, of course: think on-site surveys, GPS and radio tag tracking, and video “traps” activated by infrared sensors, among others. But while each of those options has its benefits, they all suffer from drawbacks that constrain our ability to understand wildlife.

For example, visual surveys depend on investigators watching animals in person, which isn’t necessarily feasible (and which takes a lot of time and effort when it is). These surveys can also inadvertently damage the surrounding environment.

Radio telemetry and GPS only work within the range of the device’s signal, and within a small amount of time, the battery lasts. These tools are also restricted by the need to tag wildlife—and in some cases to collect the tags afterward. Tags lose signal when animals are on private land or in other inaccessible areas; devices also have limited capacity due to weight and size constraints and impede animals’ lives.

Video traps have an upfront cost to set up in addition to the time and expense of tracking. Moreover, you can only use this method to see what passes by chance right in front of the trap. It’s utterly useless for tracking animal movements over a large area, or any other events beyond the small area where the trap is installed.

Fortunately, UAVs present a way around the problems posed by these other wildlife monitoring options.

Leveraging Aerial Systems to Monitor Wildlife

Source: Shutterstock

Aerial systems in the past might have included satellites and manned aircraft, neither of which made for particularly convenient monitoring options when it comes to wildlife conservation. Satellites are too distant for precision, and manned aircraft are too expensive. However, UAVs now offer the best of both options. Lightweight, independent, accurate, and cost-effective, they make for the optimal aerial surveillance solution.

Consider, for example, tracking animal migration patterns. This is costly and impractical to do at a ground level; aerial surveillance is obviously the best way to study these changes. As seen from the sky, a group of animals may move from one location to another, such as from a nesting ground to a foraging site. However, we’ve discussed the distance of satellites, and manned craft won’t offer the constant monitoring such tracking demands.

UAVs, however, work quietly and independently, watching movement from above around the clock. These aircraft also aren’t impeded by private property or other inaccessible areas—and do not interfere with animals or put humans in danger. The speed and distance with which UAVs operate also translate to cost savings. You spend less on data collection and analytics; carefully-run UAV flights make it feasible to collect vast amounts of data that can be quickly processed with artificial intelligence.

Building on years of experience applying drones to solve environmental and energy challenges, UAV data from SkyX supports wildlife monitoring and also defends the environment against climate change. The same insights can prevent wildfires, poaching, and other threats. The system learns and adapts to each unique situation.

SkyX can also work with you to find a custom solution for your specific project requirements. The arrangements include all aspects of UAV operation, as well as data monitoring and processing. It’s the top choice whether you’re monitoring wildlife or a built environment.

Source: Shutterstock

Improve Wildlife Conservation with UAVs

Unmanned aerial vehicles like those from SkyX bring a new angle to wildlife conservation and monitoring—literally. A bird’s eye view helps conservationists consider ecosystems in their totality, to better plan conservation efforts. UAVs also bring the added benefit of costing less time and money than other solutions. Wildlife conservation efforts often do not come with the budget they deserve—so it’s important to make every penny count.

SkyX offers comprehensive service with leading-edge UAV technology and artificial intelligence. SkyX also offers a comprehensive package, including maintenance, licensing, and operation of the aerial systems—so you can focus on the data.

Book a demo to see how SkyX’s UAVs can improve your wildlife monitoring efforts today!