UAVs Deployed in Counter Poaching Missions

UAVs Deployed in Counter Poaching Missions

This is the third in a series of posts reporting on the Wildlife Conservation UAV Challenge fact-finding mission to South Africa.

SANParks Section Ranger Rodney Landela executes counter poaching missions using Aurora’s “Skate” UAV.

PRETORIUSKOP, SOUTH AFRICA — Our fact finding mission and demo of Aurora Flight Sciences’ small UAV turned operational. After officials saw the potential for a tactically deployed UAV, we were quickly embedded with rangers to support live counter poaching missions.

Section Ranger Rodney Landela couldn’t wipe the grin off his face. He had in his hands a live video feed of a hotspot 2 kilometers away. After 15 minutes of training, Ranger Landela was deploying and flying a UAV where he wanted, when he wanted. A river bed that normally took four hours to clear now took 30 minutes.

Scott “LB” Williams, Director General of the Reserve Protection Agency, was advising the rangers on tactics.

Embedded with rangers
RPA Director General Scott “LB” Williams joins a ranger patrol on foot

“It didn’t take long for the rangers to figure out how they could use it. They’re creative and adept at coming up with their own ideas, which is what we’re encouraging,” Williams said.

The only risk is in overselling it. While not a panacea—UAVs alone will not stop poaching—the right solution can add a capability that will help rangers do their jobs.

We also ran night missions using payloads with infrared sensors.

SANParks ranger launches UAV for night mission
SANParks Ranger launches UAV for night mission

The camera flash happened to catch a cool picture of “Skate” just after launch.

UAV launched for night mission

I know I promised video in my last post. I’m working hard on making that happen. Once we get the approvals we need we’ll post them in a follow up.

12 thoughts on “UAVs Deployed in Counter Poaching Missions

  1. SaluteUAV distribuite nelle missioni Contatore Bracconaggio | Salute says:

    […] La nostra missione esplorativa e demo di piccoli UAV Aurora Flight Sciences ‘attivata operativa. Dopo che i funzionari hanno visto il potenziale per un UAV tatticamente schierato, ci siamo trovati rapidamente integrati con i ranger per sostenere le missioni contatore bracconaggio dal vivo. […]

  2. Andrew Terranova says:

    Nice work.Keep up the great reporting!

  3. ghrobinson says:


  4. Conversations with a SANDF Colonel | MAKE says:

    […] is the fourth in a series of posts reporting on the Wildlife Conservation UAV Challenge fact-finding mission to […]

  5. International 3D Printed Drone Competition - 3D Printing Industry says:

    […] parts is nigh on impossible out in the bush lands of Africa’s national wildlife reserves. The drones currently used cost USD$15,000 (£10,000), which increases to $23,000 with the cost of the camera, ground control […]

  6. Nova Labs Forms UAV Team to Help Fight Rhino Poaching in South Africa | Nova Labs says:

    […] UAVs Deployed in Counter Poaching Missions […]

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Justin is the Founder and first CFO of Nova Labs, a nonprofit makerspace and community innovation lab located in Reston, VA. He can be reached at leto.justin [at] gmail [dot] com and on twitter @letojj.

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