FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions

Got any questions? Wildlife Drones is here to help.

  • What services does Wildlife Drones provide?

    Wildlife Drones developed the world’s first drone-based VHF tracking system to detect multiple tagged animals simultaneously and in real-time. Compatible with any VHF tags globally, our unique sensor technology is a valuable addition to any conservation, management, and environmental science project worldwide.

    We work with government departments, Universities, environmental consultants and private industries worldwide to assist clients with impact assessments and provide monitoring solutions for native and endangered species as well as manage invasive species populations.

    Our telemetry system is available for purchase in the United States, Australia, New Zealand and many more countries and we supports clients every step of the way from providing one-on-one training and technical support to successfully deploy our technology.

    For clients in Australia, Wildlife Drones offers also thermal imaging services. With a team of experienced and qualified drone pilots, our clients are able to conduct thermal imaging drone surveys and assist in analysing and reporting on heat signature data.

  • I’m curious about using drones for my work but don’t know where to start. What do I do first?

    We’ve empowered all kinds of wildlife researchers and other professionals to adopt and use drones for the first time. From learning how to fly, buying the right drone and sensors, and learning how to use them, we’re happy to help you every step of the way. To get started, simply send us an inquiry and we will get back to you with more information specific to your needs or to organize a virtual meeting so we can share ideas on how you can begin to take to the skies! Or book a free virtual demo with us here.

  • What types of wildlife research can be conducted using Wildlife Drones?

    Wildlife Drones offers a range of possibilities for conducting research on a diversity of wildlife and invasive species. Our drone-based telemetry technology enables researchers to:

    • Radio-track endangered species
    • Track invasive species and monitor movements
    • Study mortality and survival for captive bred, re-introduced and translocated wildlife
    • Study behavior patterns
    • Collect more data more often, with less effort
    • Survey vast areas that are inaccessible on the ground

    This is suitable for monitoring a wide variety of species, including:

    • Mammals
    • Bats
    • Birds
    • Reptiles
    • Amphibians
    • Fish

    Additionally, thermal imaging capabilities allow for the detection of elusive or nocturnal animals as well as for counting populations and monitoring population health. By providing a non-invasive and efficient means of data collection, Wildlife Drones empowers researchers to gain valuable insights into wildlife populations, behavior, and conservation needs, contributing to informed decision-making and effective conservation strategies.

  • What are some examples of different species that have been successfully tracked with Wildlife Drones’ radio-telemetry technology?

    Wildlife Drones’ technology has been successfully employed in a wide range of tracking projects across the United States, Australia, Vietnam and New Zealand. The technology has been used to assist government agencies, universities, environmental consultants, as well as private industries and NGO’s. A few examples include:

    • Tracking endangered Indiana bats in the United States – Case Study
    • Radio-tracking Pangolins in Vietnam – Case Study
    • Tracking endangered Kākāpō in New Zealand – Case Study
    • Radio-tracking Koalas in Australia – Case Study
    • Tracking Rosenberg’s Goanna in Australia – Case Study
    • Tracking critically endangered Orange-bellied Parrots in Australia – Case Study
    • Radio-tracking Snakes in Australia – Case Study
    • Tracking Eastern Barred Bandicoots in Australia – Case Study
    • Tracking Raccoons in the United States – Case Study
    • Radio-tracking Feral Pigs in the United States – Case Study
    • Tracking Opossums in the United – Case Study
    • Tracking Hare Wallabies in Australia – Case Study
    • Tracking Shark Bay Bandicoots in Australia – Case Study
    • Tracking Bitterns in Australia – Case Study
    • Radio-tracking Tortoises in Australia – Case Study
  • What are the benefits of using Wildlife Drones for wildlife conservation?

    With Wildlife Drones’ you can empower your team to cost-effectively collect more radio-telemetry data, more often, with less effort. It’s the world’s most advanced tracking solution for locating tagged animals in real-time.

    • Track 40 radio-tagged animals simultaneously
    • Detect any VHF radio-tag
    • Maximize tag detectability
    • Locate animal locations in real-time
    • View locations live on a map, even when offline
    • Gain safe, reliable access to rugged and remote areas
    • Ultimately, save time and money

    Traditional tracking techniques (handheld / yagi antenna) are hindered by impassable terrain, dense vegetation, or a lack of high points to monitor from. This is where our technology shines, enabling wildlife professionals to survey notoriously challenging areas, including:

    • Wetlands
    • Swamps
    • Forest and Woodland
    • Dense jungle
    • Dense forest
    • Steep, rugged terrain
    • Grasslands
    • Scrublands
    • Coastal areas, coastal scrubs and Saltmarsh, Dunes
    • Forests
    • Fiordland
    • Islands

    Wildlife Drones has achieved successful collaborations with diverse clients worldwide:

    Wildlife Drones offers tag testing so you can see how your equipment will perform in the field. Simply mail us your VHF transmitters and we will provide a complimentary report detailing how tag detection distances compare between conventional and drone-based techniques. Below are a few examples:

  • Can anyone operate the Wildlife Drones’ system, or is special training required?

    To operate a drone legally, you may need to obtain a remote pilot license, however this is typically very achievable for anyone who is interested. Licensing requirements vary depending on your country’s aviation regulations and the size and type of the drone you are using. For example, in Australia, you would acquire this license through the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), while in the United States, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is responsible for aviation regulations.

    As for the use of our system for radio tracking, we provide free training to Wildlife Drones’ clients anywhere in the world. Our half-day intensive course equips you with the knowledge and skills necessary to effectively deploy our technology and optimize its performance. You will also be provided with an Operator Handbook and will have access to continuous support from our team.

  • How are government agencies, environmental consultancies, universities, NGO’s and zoos using Wildlife Drones’ technology for wildlife research?

    Wildlife Drones has been working with government departments, universities, private industries, and NGO’s worldwide to track and monitor native and invasive species. Compatible with any VHF tags globally, our unique sensor technology is a valuable addition to any conservation, management, and environmental science project worldwide. 


    The Wildlife Drones system has been a valuable asset on a wide range of projects. Some notable examples include:

    • Kākāpō Tracking: Working with the New Zealand Department of Conservation (DOC), we have employed our technology to track and monitor Kākāpō, an endangered parrot species. Learn more here.
    • Koala Radio-Tracking: In collaboration with the New South Wales Department of Planning, Industry, and Environment (DPIE), we have conducted radio-tracking of Koalas to study their movements and habitats. Find out more here.
    • Raccoon Tracking: The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has utilised our technology for monitoring and managing raccoon populations. Find more information here.
    • Feral Pig Tracking: Collaborating with the USDA, we have implemented radio-tracking solutions to monitor invasive feral pig populations. Learn more here.
    • Opossum Tracking: Our partnership with the USDA has also involved tracking opossums for research and management purposes. Discover more here.
    • Hare Wallaby Tracking: On Dirk Hartog Island, our technology has been instrumental in tracking and studying hare wallabies. Find out more here.
    • Shark Bay Bandicoot Tracking: Our collaboration with Dirk Hartog Island also extends to tracking Shark Bay Bandicoots for conservation efforts. Read the case study here.

    Additionally, we have worked with various zoos to track and monitor species within their facilities. For example:

    • Eastern Barred Bandicoot Tracking: We have supported the tracking of captive-bred Eastern Barred Bandicoots that were tagged and released into the wild. Find out more here.
    • Orange-Bellied Parrot Tracking: Our collaboration with Zoos Victoria has involved the search for captive-bred Orange-bellied Parrots that had gone missing from their release site. Learn more here.
  • Have any academic studies been conducted using Wildlife Drones for wildlife research?

    At Wildlife Drones we are proud to be recognised as the world’s most advanced drone radio-telemetry system with a remarkable series of accomplishments showcased through successful case studies and numerous publications. To date, we have published two original research papers on drone radio-telemtry as well as a book chapter on the ethics of using drones for wildlife research. We are dedicated on setting new standards for wildlife tracking and monitoring using drone technology. Throughout the past 12 months, our team has extended their expertise beyond academia, collaborating with clients on a research paper that showcases the practical implications of their innovative methods. Our latest academic study titled “Radio-tracking Wildlife with Drones: A Viewshed Analysis Quantifying Survey Coverage across Diverse Landscapes” can be found here on ResearchGate. The study focuses on the use of drones for radio-tracking wildlife and evaluates the extent of survey coverage achieved by our drone-based telemetry technology for various species and in different types of landscapes. The study examines the effectiveness of our drone-based radio-tracking through the analysis of viewshed, which measures the visibility of areas from different vantage points. The research provides valuable insights into the capabilities and limitations of using drones for wildlife tracking and emphasises their potential to improve survey coverage in diverse landscapes.

  • Can Wildlife Drones be used by students for research projects, and are there any special requirements for using them in an educational setting?

    Wildlife Drones’ drone based telemetry system can be used for any research projects, including student research. You’ll just need to obtain a Drone Pilot Licence or find someone else who already does and would like to work with you. For information on how to obtain the license, please refer to your country’s aviation government department website. Once you’re able to fly a drone, we offer training sessions and ongoing support to assist you in maximizing the benefits of our system.

  • How large an area can I track in a single flight?

    Your flight range is determined by the drone’s battery life and any visual line of sight requirements that you may be subject to. The drones used for radio-tracking have a battery life of around 20-25 minutes, so we recommend purchasing multiple sets of batteries. It is important to charge all batteries before heading out to the field to ensure quick battery changes. If you have a clear visual line of sight, such as being elevated on a mountain range or in a flat landscape, you can survey the area within the duration of your batteries. Depending on your tracking project, project goals, and the species you are monitoring, different flight strategies may be employed. We will work closely with your team to determine the best approach for your specific needs.

  • What is the drone’s flight time?

    At Wildlife Drones, we utilise a range of drones with an average battery life of approximately 25 minutes. To ensure you get the most out of your drone’s flight time, we recommend acquiring multiple sets of batteries and swapping them as needed. For example, with 4 sets of batteries, you can achieve a total flight time of 100 minutes or one hour and forty minutes. When optimal conditions are present, such as a clear visual line of sight, you can survey an area within a 1km radius around the pilot before returning to change batteries. During battery swaps, you are able to check the map that will show you any detected tags in real-time. Our advanced technology allows for the simultaneous detection of up to 40 tags. By utilising the filters on our user interface, you can precisely pinpoint the detected tags and plan a second flight directly to the identified locations. Depending on your specific project requirements, we can provide additional flight strategies tailored to your needs.

  • How far away can I detect my tags?

    Tag detectability is determined by a combination of factors that collectively influence its effectiveness. Firstly, the tag model’s signal strength plays a pivotal role in its ability to be detected – the general principle is that the smaller the tag, the more difficult it is to detect.
    Additionally, the positioning of the tag within the environment significantly impacts its detectability. And ultimately, the detectability of the tag is also influenced by the surrounding landscape features.

  • What tags are compatible with Wildlife Drones’ radio-receiver?

    We can track any tag, from any manufacturer that has a unique VHF frequency. In fact we can track 40 unique VHF frequencies at the same time. Yes, that’s simultaneously rather than cycling through them all, so you never have to miss a tag again while listening for a different one! A few key companies that we work with often include ATS, Holohil, and Lotek. We’ve also partnered with ATS and Lotek to integrate and elevate our technological resources to supply wildlife biologists and conservation researchers with the most advanced tracking technology possible.

    Choosing the appropriate tag for your tracking project primarily depends on the species being tracked and the project objectives. However, it is possible to track even a Giant Hornet using a 0.15g tag from ATS. In wildlife research, keeping track of tagged animals is best achieved from elevated positions. Therefore, even when tracking with a handheld Yagi antenna on the ground, signals are often blocked causing immense frustration. This is where Wildlife Drones excels, as you can create a high point anywhere in the landscape, and the aerial perspective significantly enhances your ability to find your lost animals and/or their tags!

    To help you get the most out of our technology, we offer free tag testing. Just send us a few of your animal VHF transmitters and we will track them with our system. Upon returning your tags, we will provide you with a complimentary report that will tell you the detection distance we were able to achieve. Get in contact with us to learn more.

    Please contact us with your tag information to get a better idea of how our drone-based system will increase your detection rates.

  • Do the drones disturb wildlife?

    When considering the potential impact of drones on wildlife, we encourage you to reach out to discuss your specific project, the ways our technology can assist you, and any concerns regarding potential disturbance to the animals you are tracking.

    Whenever incorporating new technology into a research project, it is always important to evaluate potential impacts. Fortunately, there is a rapidly growing body of peer-reviewed research documenting drone impacts or lack thereof on different kinds of animals. In many instances, the use of drones in wildlife research can actually have fewer impacts on the animals than conventional techniques. We are happy to offer our input based on best available research and our past experiences.

    We adopt a multifaceted approach to minimize disturbance to wildlife during drone operations and advise researchers to conduct any radio-tracking surveys from a distance to avoid disturbing the animals and their natural behaviors. Our technology enables us to track wildlife from a safe distance, eliminating the need for close proximity and further reducing disruption.

    You may also want to refer to the book chapter we authored on how to use drones ethically in wildlife research and which also outlines essential guidelines and principles.

    If you’d like to delve deeper into these practices or have any questions, please feel free to get in touch with us for more information.

  • What drones are compatible with Wildlife Drones radio-telemetry system?

    Freefly Systems Astro is a compact, professional-grade quadcopter drone that is designed, tested and built in Washington State, USA. It’s a powerful drone, but importantly it is also quiet. With low noise in the VHF band, it allows our radio-receiver to detect even the faintest VHF radio-tag signals from a distance. With over 100,000 successful commercial drone flights, plus multi-band RTK, LTE cloud connectivity and mission computer, you can easily survey more areas, more often to collect the radio-telemetry data you need.

    Although they are no longer produced, the DJI Matrice 210 and Matrice 600 pro are also approved for use.

  • What is the connection range between the system and pilot?

    Drones offer remarkable communication range capabilities, often extending up to 5 kilometers or more. However, the primary limitation on how far you can fly them is the requirement to maintain a direct visual line of sight with the drone, typically within a range of less than 1.5 kilometers. The ease of adhering to this rule varies depending on the landscape; it’s more straightforward in environments like wetlands, grasslands, shrublands, and woodlands compared to tall or dense forests. Nonetheless, with the right skills and experience, drones are effectively utilized in these challenging terrains on a daily basis. For those who aspire to achieve longer-range flights, it is possible to obtain specific permissions to fly beyond the visual line of sight. However, this involves a considerably more rigorous and intricate process due to the necessity for extra safety precautions.