The Tarangire National Park is this month going to spearhead a pilot program in deployment of special Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) for surveillance of wildlife against poachers.
“The trial aerial scrutiny will be conducted later this September and the second one is expected to come up in October,” explained Mr Michael Chambers the Director of Bathawk-Recon, an organization which is introducing the new surveillance concept in Tanzania.
The use of UAVs more for aerial survey and wildlife patrols, an initiative of Arusha-based conservationists, aims at reducing if not eradicating killings of elephants, rhinos and other wildlife species through poaching. The move comes at a time when a special elephant census is being planned for the Tarangire-Manyara ecosystem
A model of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) to be used in anti-poaching campaign.
Stakeholders in conservation during the meeting in Dar es Salaam late August.
.The planned trials are part of ongoing efforts by the private sector to complement government anti- poaching initiatives through private public partnership spearheaded by the Tanzania Private Sector Foundation (TPSF), a business association in the country.
The initiative is being implemented through the Bathawk-Recon (BHR, a leading International organization and Tanzanian limited liability company, the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) with support from the Elephant Survival Organization (ESO)
The organization will work in conjunction with TPSF to form the Private Sector Anti-Poaching Initiative (PSAPI) designed to support private sector entities’ ability to contract anti-poaching services to the government, specifically UAV operations and the associated development of tactical actions and intelligence gathering.
“The equipment will fly over parks covering as much area as possible using advanced high definition video and Infra-red equipment,” stated Mr. Chambers who is also the BHR Communications and Strategy officer. The participation of the private sector in the war against poaching was vital in ensuring success in the global war against illegal wildlife hunting.
According to Mr Chambers, the trials in Tarangire National Park will pilot future programs on how UAV surveillance can be organised, distributed and coordinated. It serves as a benchmark for planning and budgeting other aerial surveying activities in other precincts.
The project will see a number of UAVs, camps being established from which, operational units (PODS) equipped with multiple aircraft, vehicles and communications equipment will be deployed to monitor, identify, follow and eventually deliver suspected poachers to wildlife authorities and include in their capabilities significant tactical expertise in developing operations.
BHR has partnered with a Tanzania based non-profit Elephant Survival Organisation – which will interact with NGOs and surrounding communities to build awareness and increase public participation for an overall inclusive and transparent initiative.
The Tarangire Eco-system which also encompasses the Lake Manyara National Park and the connecting corridor in between, measures about 20,000 square kilometers.
Tanzania with a count of 110,000 elephants is second after Botswana (which has 123,000), for having the largest number of Jumbos concentration in Africa.
Tarangire National Park, mapped within Monduli, Babati and Simanjiro Districts in Arusha nd Manyara regions, is the sixth largest national park in the country after Ruaha, Serengeti, Mikumi, Katavi and Mkomazi.
The park is linked by a wide wildlife corridor to Lake Manyara and during dry seasons thousands of animals migrate to the Tarangire National Park from Lake Manyara.