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Drones to Manage Endangered Species in New Zealand

With over a thousand endangered and threatened invertebrate species, New Zealand has been looking for technology to assist its preservation initiative. These endangered bugs can now be identified with the help of drones and might be a new revolution in managing wildlife extinction.

There are over 1000 threatened or endangered invertebrate species in New Zealand, including insects and other living bugs, and many other unknowns regarding their habits, where they live, and how far they travel. New Zealand’s internationally renowned bird conservation programmes, such as radio-tracking technologies for bird management, have long relied on innovation. This device can be used to investigate enormous invertebrates such as the giant wētā and giant land snails (Powelliphanta) but is simply too big and heavy for most insects.

A research team at the University of Canterbury is developing new technologies that could lead to a better knowledge of the country’s threatened and endangered insects, paving way for more effective conservation management by using UAV (drone) mounted radar.  The university is combining its knowledge with the College of Engineering to develop novel tag-and-track technologies that could revolutionise the understanding of insects and other kinds of endangered bugs.

According to the researchers of the University of Canterbury, since the 1990s, harmonic radar technology has been used, but it had to be modified for usage with small bugs. The tags have to be compact, function with less power and withstand greater mobility. The researchers have made roughly 20 test harmonic radar tags of 2mm to 3mm wide, allowing them to experiment around with different parameters and gain a better knowledge of tag design with the idea of it could dispatch a swarm of UAVs to track and identify the insect in real-time.

The transmitters being fine-tuned for this project, unlike prior harmonic radar tracking facilities, are constructed with mobility in mind and operate with a significantly reduced power need. This enables substantially lower-cost data collection in complicated landscapes and over longer distances.

In future, drones could possibly not only track endangered insects but can also contribute to detecting and monitoring seemingly imperceptible fluctuations within wildlife populations, which can facilitate more informed and proactive conservation efforts. Especially with so many animals across the world facing extinction, the need for these impressive techs would possibly be the solution to the wildlife extinction.

Drone technology can be used to monitor key animal populations and aid in conservation efforts. This approach is not only more precise, but it is also non-invasive, allowing researchers to see the animal in its natural state without harming it. By improving safety measures and saving money with drone technology, conservationists can put their focus on studying these animals and bringing them back from the point of extinction.

To counter current wildlife tracking challenges, animals are tranquillized and given radio collars, these animals often wake up scared or terrified, altering their regular behaviour. Using drones to accomplish these tracking chores is a less intrusive technique to get the same outcome.

Up to this point drones and the natural world did not get off to the best start. Nevertheless, this is beginning to change. Drone technology is at the vanguard of several critical conservation projects at a time when wildlife needs protection more than ever. The research team of the University of Canterbury expects to start field testing in 2023, beginning with ground-based insects before moving on to the more difficult task of tracking insects in flight. This groundbreaking finding could have implications in a variety of sectors, including biosecurity and medical imaging.

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