23 Aug 2018

Special drone built to watch over rhinos

8:41 pm on 23 August 2018

A Raglan company has created a drone to help with conservation work in South Africa.

Aeronavics with Amakhala Team at Amakhala game reserve

Aeronavics with Amakhala Team at Amakhala game reserve Photo: Aeronavics

The Aeronavics-designed machine will help a specialist tracking unit to perform surveillance on rhino poachers during the day and night.

Director Linda Bulk said they were approached by Tuskhorn Wildlife Reserve about building a drone with night vision capability.

She said it has more capability than most drones, flies very far, has a thermal camera and cost about $20,000 to build.

Ms Bulk said the drone worked perfectly when it mattered most.

"We tested it thoroughly. We spent a whole week with their anti-poaching unit - did all sorts of scenarios. We know that it [will] give them that eye in the sky at night - where they can't see a thing and that most poaching is happening at night."

The Tuskhorn Wildlife Trust plans to use the drone to detect poachers to ensure they aren't threatening rhinos.

Meanwhile, Linda Bulk said they want to further improve the system and make it available to more national parks and reserves around the world.