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New Technologies Helping Africa’s Wildlife – a blog by Leigh Marcos

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Conservationists across the world, but especially in Africa, are taking advantage of new, growing technologies to better their ability to conserve wildlife. For decades, after countries realized the impact their hunting was having on species, it has been a race to save some of the biggest and most spectacular animals on the planet. Ivory sales are banned internationally and protective reserves have been founded to try and encourage population growth. Still poachers wanting to sell ivory, pelts, baby lions as pets, or body parts for eastern medicines are seeking a slice of lucrative markets. There are new tools in the conservationist’s armory however.

The Role of Drones in Conservation

Perhaps the newest one is the drone. Previously an American war machine, drones are becoming more compact, more affordable, and flexibly. Now a major hobby and even sport across the world, drones are also being utilized to help protect endangered animals including elephants, rhinos, lions, and leopards. They are able to cover large swathes of territory providing real time video footage so conservationists can track poachers and better deploy forces against them. Furthermore, they allow conservationists to monitor wildlife without endangering themselves.

How They Can Promote Better Tourism

Drone footage can also be used in other ways. These include providing sweeping vistas and promotion videos for ethical tourism companies and safari tours. The footage can also be used in making wildlife videos and content designed to be shared socially or on video sharing websites, which help educate people all over the world about the beauty and majesty of the big, endangered wildlife in Africa. Future work, donations, and technological developments depend on people caring from afar and drone footage can help show these animals in their natural environs without disturbing them.

Learning from Other Countries

Meanwhile, in India, a project is underway to help communities along the Nadu Ar-Sholayar river system in the Valparal Conservation Area track elephant migration patterns. As anyone living in an elephant territory know, these are animals of habit. A bit like human hunter gatherers of old, they move in regular patterns, at similar times of year, and along the exact same paths they’ve always trekked. Elephants have an amazing sense of place which includes places where loved ones have died.

In India they have created an LED light-based warning system which trained observers can trigger with a text message to allow other residents know that elephants are moving through the area. This is necessary because 100 elephants and 400 people die annually in central India when the two clash. It is hoped the lights will help reduce fatalities on both sides.

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