Tanzania: Anti-Poaching Surveillance By Drone Proves Successful


By Deus Ngowi, Tanzania Daily News

Date Published
At last anti-poaching surveillance trials have proved successful in Tanzanian national parks through the use of a Super Bat DA-50 plane. After two ineffective trials in Tarangire and Selous national parks, a private Tanzania company, Bathawk Recon, registered success in its five successive days trials in Mkomazi National Park.
While the former trials used a French-made plane that was incompatible with a number of features, including weather, size of the parks and time they needed to be airborne, the American DA-50 has proved to be the right kit. Speaking after the trials at Kisima aistrip within Mkomazi Game Reserve, Bathawk Recon Head, Mr Mike Chambers, said the small, lightweight unmanned plane could bring to an end poaching in Tanzania, specifically to the most targeted animals – elephants and rhinos.
“We have finished the surveillance trials and are upbeat this is the right equipment that can be on air for 10 successive hours, identify anything on ground night and day and send the right data to a ground control system,” said Mr Chambers.
Elephants and rhinos are under threat across Africa and a number of projects have proposed UAV surveillance, agree that aerial surveillance is needed but there was no project that achieved a workable scalable model to deploy UAV in a way that would make a difference. The trials were under management of officials from Martin UAV Company that manufactured the planes, two of whom have been pilots in US and British air forces.
Mr Chambers said after the trials they will present their reports to Tanzania National Parks (Tanapa) and Tanzania Private Sector Foundation (TPSF) and await Tanzania Government decision if they could enter a deal with it to supply the service. “We want to offer this service to Tanzania.
After the reports we could enter into negotiation and if agreed we will offer it with quality equipment and strong training to Tanzanians. Martin UAV’s Chief Operating Officer (COO) and a former UK Air Force pilot, Mr Phil Jones, said he was sure the technology matches properly with Tanzania’s situation.
He said the plane uses half a litre of fuel per hour and can help track poachers, send information to the ground and enable rangers to act quickly to arrest them. Mr Jones said in Tanzania there is no such plane that can stay on air for 10 hours, land, refuel and go back for the same hours.
Planes from the company have been used and are ideal for small units surveillance, anti- piracy, aerial mapping, urban monitoring, border patrol, force protection, pipeline inspection, perimeter security and damage assessment.