Radio-tracking drones

AWMS2019: Improving wildlife management in remote places with technology

When you work with wildlife, you are bound to end up in some pretty remote places. From desolate islands to dense jungles, our customers have already taken our technology into areas where few have been.

For us, the prospect of our technology being used to improve fieldwork in remote landscapes has been an exciting one. Drones have already proven to be an effective tool for rapidly surveying large areas and for locating multiple animals.

Last week, we attended the Australasian Wildlife Management Society’s (AWMS) conference up in Darwin to learn more about wildlife management in remote landscapes and how technology like ours can better help. The AWMS conference was the perfect opportunity for us to connect with people from all over Australia who are working on a variety of species in incredibly diverse environments.

We heard stories from many people using radio-tracking to monitor a diversity of wildlife and invasive species.  This included tracking Banded Hare Wallabies on Dirk Hartog Island, through to the immense challenges people face when implementing judas animal management, such as tagging and controlling deer in some the most rugged mountains of New Zealand.  There were many examples of spending long hours and days searching for one animal at a time, and having sore arms from having to carry around clunky equipment.  It was interesting to hear that the same limitations associated with manual radio-tracking still continue to create grief for people even today. When asked who had experience radio tracking animals 90% of delegates put their hands up so we were definitely in the right place!

It was also fascinating to hear about the unique combinations of technology used in all manner of management techniques for conservation management, feral animal control, genetic surveys and even counting hippos in the Okavango Delta with drones.  Camera traps are certainly an increasingly important part of monitoring a whole range of species and with increasing Artificial Intelligence in processing visual data enabling many more people to make the most of this tool.

In addition, we held a workshop to demonstrate what is now possible in terms of Wildlife Drones’ radio-tracking technology.  A wonderful group of people from diverse backgrounds joined us to see our technology in action and get inspired about how this technology can change the way radio-tracking is done.  It was fabulous to hear about the broad range of work they were doing, including working with Indigenous rangers in some of the most remote corners of the country.  Interestingly, a broody Masked Lapwing was intent on keeping people away but didn’t care at all about the drone either on the ground or in flight.

For us, attending the conference this year has not only enabled us to connect with new people and gain new insights into the ever-changing world of wildlife management, but it has also been an opportunity for us to reflect on the progress we’ve made over the past 12 months.

Last year, we attended the 2018 AWMS conference in Hobart. The first version of our user interface had just been completed and our one-of-a-kind radio-receiver was still housed in a dinky plastic black box. Fast forward to now, our radio-tracking systems can be shipped to anyone who needs it and have been used across Australia, as well as in Vietnam.



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