Past Features

March 14, 2017

The Elephant's great hope
--- from above

NY Times -- March 14, 2017  
High Above, Drones Keep Watchful Eyes on Wildlife in Africa
    Liwonde, Malawi --- Night has fallen at Liwonde National Park, but the trespassers are clearly visible. Three hundred feet in the air, a thermal camera attached to a BatHawk drone tracks their boat, a black sliver gliding up the luminous gray Shire River.
    “They're breaking the law by coming into the park,” said Antoinette Dudley, one of the drone's operators, pointing to her computer screen. [...]
   So far, no arrests of poachers have been made solely based on drone surveillance, and pilots have only spotted poachers a handful of times. Drone teams often don't get ground support in the form of rangers able to follow up on leads, and must frequently fly without guidance on where poachers might be, according to Mr. Werdmuller Von Elgg.
    During trials in South Africa's Kruger National Park, a protected area roughly the size of Israel, “we were told to go find people in this vast area based on no intelligence --- it was an absolute waste of time,” Mr. Werdmuller Von Elgg said. “We were just turning batteries into noise.”

Glenn Spencer -- March 14   
SEIDARM to the rescue? - Probably not
    Hunting poachers is similar to hunting smugglers --- drones work fine --- if you know where to send them. American Border Patrol has been testing a system that marries drones to the SEIDARM sensor system. When SEIDARM says it has detected a human intruder, the drone, called IDENTICOPTER, is launched to investigate.
    SEIDARM could be installed around a wildlife preserve, launching IDENTICOPTER only when it suspects poachers are present. It could be automatic, with IDENTICOPTER returning to its 'nest' to have its batteries recharged with solar power.
    Rangers would learn exactly how and where poachers work - intercepting and arresting them as SEIDARM/IDENTICOPTER watch from above.
    As the NY Times reported: One person familiar with the use of drones to intercept poachers said:
    “I am very convinced that we are onto something, but we're only beginning to understand how this tool can be used effectively,” he said. “The challenge now is determining how we integrate drones into existing anti-poaching operations.”
    I would like to show the people at the NY Times how SEIDARM could be used to guide drones to intercept poachers, but, unfortunately, they are not allowed to talk to me.
    Too bad for the elephants.
PLEASE READ: For those who think I am acting a little strange about helping elephants, read this. --- Glenn added - March14, 5 PM PT: If you work as a journalist for a big money outlet and you don't check this out --- you are worse than the poachers!