South African National Parks (SANParks) is in the process of testing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to combat rhino poaching.
According to Kuseni Dlamini, SANParks board chairperson, the group – which manages the country's national parks – is evaluating UAV technology as part of a yearlong project.
“This aims at investigating the effectiveness of various UAV technologies as instruments in rhino-protection efforts under a range of operational conditions,” Dlamini explains. “By the end of the project, we will have a lot of information about the use of available technology in anti-poaching operations and be able to make informed decisions on what is best for our environment.”
SANParks is testing UAVs in Kruger National Park as one component of a suite of anti-poaching initiatives supported by the Rhino Protection Programme – a collaborative effort between the Department of Environmental Affairs, SANParks, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and Peace Parks Foundation.
As part of SANPark’s anti-poaching initiative and “in accordance with the much needed aerial support to the anti-poaching teams around the clock,” Dlamini says, the group has received from the Howard G. Buffett Foundation a manned Airbus AS-350B3e helicopter with night-flying capability.