Plans are afoot in India to employ drones to track wildlife and combat poaching in ten separate sites across the country by January 2015. The ten areas chosen for this initiative reflect the ten different zones of biodiversity in the country, including the Sunderbans, the Himalayas, the Western Ghats, and so on.

This is not the first time drones have been employed to the aid of wildlife; previously, this technology has been used to keep an eye out on critically endangered animal species and human activities in countries like Nepal and Indonesia, according to The Economic Times. Drones are currently being used by the Panna Tiger Reserve (PTR) in Madhya Pradesh, India to keep an eye on poaching activities. But now, having tested the great advantages of the use of this technology in the country, wildlife conservation efforts in India are about to get a big boost, via this new program.

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Why is This Such Good News?

Drones can aid conservation efforts in a number of ways. Knowledge is power, and these drones will be able to transmit valuable information about the endangered wildlife and the human habits affecting them. For example, they can be used to count the populations of endangered animals like tigers, or learn about species we otherwise have difficulty tracking, like snow leopards and red pandas.

“With this we will move on to the second generation technology for monitoring and surveillance of wildlife. They will be cost-effective and can reach areas where it is difficult for humans to enter,” Wildlife Institute of India’s wildlife scientist K. Ramesh told The Hindu.

The drones can also be a powerful anti-poaching tool. “It can be particularly useful in monitoring poaching of lesser known species. But drone technology can only detect poaching and so it should be backed by on-ground staff monitoring,” said Ramesh.

In other words, drones act as powerful deterrents. Like a surveillance camera in a shop, they don’t fight robbers off, but they can make them think twice about robbing the place.

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Drones are a new and exciting development in conservation, and cost-effective tool to help protect and learn about wildlife.

Here at One Green Planet we are excited to see where this new technology will take us in understanding the species we share the planet with, and we’re glad to have a new tool in our arsenal to combat poaching!

Image source: Don McCoullough/Flickr

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