Falcon UAV recently completed operational field tests in South Africa to demonstrate the use of tactical unmanned aircraft in support of anti-poaching, wildlife conservation, and wildlife research. Flights were completed at the Olifants West Game Reserve and the Karongwe Game Reserve and included multiple night flights as well as aerial photography missions of suspected poacher camping/transition locations. Night flights were completed using the Tamarisk 320 and Tamarisk 640 cameras which provided excellent footage of night time wildlife activity which included wild dogs, impala, giraffes, rhinos, and elephants. For these missions the Falcon used the APM autopilot and Mission Planner Software providing a professional non-ITAR tactical UAV solution.
These tests would not have been possible without the tireless efforts of so many people who were working behind the scenes to make this happen and we would like to show our appreciation to a few individuals who made this happen.
The effort was spearheaded by Dr. Tom Snitch (Univ. of Maryland) who spent countless hours over the last year trying to arrange this volunteer effort. Dr. Snitch’s has taken one of his many jobs and applied it to his passion of protecting Africa’s wildlife. His university team uses predictive mathematical modeling to help predict the area areas of a future event based on historical data. For our anti poaching missions, this allows the Falcon to be employed in higher risk areas making it a more effective tool for anti-poaching efforts.
We are grateful to Kirsty Brebner and the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) for providing funding for accommodations as well as arranging media events to promote the use of UAVs for conservation missions.
Thank you to Craig Spencer, Warden of Olifants West Game Reserve, for allowing us to fly on his reserve as well as providing generating interest among many of the local reserves for this technology.
Falcon UAV would like to thank Jeff Leake, IR Cameras LLC, and DRS for providing DRS Tamarisk Infrared Cameras which were critical to completing successful night time missions. We would also like to thank the 3D Robotics Development Te 75 am for making the APM and Mission Planning Software what it is today. Special thanks to Doug Weibel for the flight test support and introducing us to APM, Craig Elder for helping us coordinate with the 3DR Dev Team, Michael Oborne for making critical changes to the Mission Planning Software to support all of Falcons functionality. And last but not least we would like to thank Andrew Tridgell. Andrew spent countless hours on developing firmware upgrades and providing technical support in the months leading up to our Africa experience.