UAV ANTI POACHING TRIALS: Tanzanian Company, Bathawk Recon, Tests Aircraft for UAV Surveillance Service

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Bathawk Recon, a private Tanzanian company, in conjunction with Tanzanian Aviation and Wildlife Authorities ran UAV trials at Tarangire National Park in northern Tanzania this last week. The trials are designed to determine if the Delair DT-18 can detect poaching or other unauthorized activity.

On a dark night in Tarangire National Park, northern Tanzania, a small cheer rang out from a group huddled around a computer screen set up on the open savanna. The Delair Tech DT-18 UAV had just overflown the Tarangire River some eight kilometers to the east and the infrared image of two hundred buffalo rolled out on the monitor. Each animal distinct, walking in long lines, up out of the river valley.

It was an image which helped all observers see exactly how UAV surveillance could radically change the anti poaching equation. The idea is to have teams that can deploy widely, operate simply and cover ground. And covering ground in the wildlife protection business means thousands of square kilometers. The DT-18’s arithmetic is simple because it can fly multiple missions every day, or to be more precise, every night, its coverage capability adds up to some impressive numbers. But what can it see?

And thus the cheer for the buffalo. Each animal stood out clearly so it could be counted. While the direction, speed and summitry of the herd showed it was calm and unharnessed. With repeated observation this data could be mapped and danger zones established. These are just the surveillance capabilities protection authorities want to deploy at short notice across parks and reserves that are measured in the thousands or even tens of thousands of ten thousand square kilometers.

Head of Protection at the Tanzania National Parks Authority, Mr. Kisamo Stephen, noted that “technology is going to be the key factor in curbing poaching. We will put it in place and it will make the difference."

Along with Bathawk Directors, the engineers from the manufactures in France and TANAPA, the trial was attended by the Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority, the African Wildlife Foundation and Bathawk Pilot and Communication Officer trainees. PCO’s are to be the new front line in anti poaching if Bathawk’s plan to deploy UAVs is agreed and if Bathawk’s motto, "We Own the Night," is to be achieved.

The DT-18 trials in Tarangire have been set up under the umbrella of the Private Sector Anti Poaching Initiative in which the Tanzania Private Sector Foundation is pressing to bring private sector energy and capacity to bear on the poaching crisis. Bathawk Recon is the pilot project. Bathawk Recon is a private sector anti poaching service company registered in Tanzania to develop and deploy UAV surveillance for parks and reserves. The international poaching crises, driven by growing Asian economies is impacting Tanzania’s wildlife at a potentially disastrous rate. Bathawk Recon will bring focused near term capability to combat this imminent danger to our wildlife heritage. If you would like more information, access to more photos, video or interviews please contact us.

More information is also available at: http://www.bat-hawkrecon.com and http://www.elephantsurvival.or.tz, Twitter, Facebook. Also available for comment: Capt Noel Komba, Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority, +255 758 500504; Fidelis olle Kashe, African Wildlife Foundation, +255 754 826255

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Michael Chambers
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