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UAV-based surveying of wildlife in Africa

Long-range UAV as an affordable tool for monitoring wildlife populations, applying multi-spectral cameras for automated image analysis

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I want to develop a long-range UAS for wildlife monitoring in Africa. As most of the protected areas in Africa lack financial resources for frequent census of their wildlife population, effects from poaching, disease, reduced reproduction rates due to disturbance, lack of access to resources, etc. on the wildlife populations are often not (or far too late) available for effective management action. UAVs have the potential to provide an affordable tool for regular survey, however most commercial systems are still very expensive and/or rely on manual post-flight analysis of thousands of photos.
We are therefore interested in developing an automated animal detection system based on multi-spectral sensors, which will provide an efficient method for quick assessment of the data. We want to integrate a combined sensor stack including a high-resolution RGB camera, a multi-spectral camera with narrow band filters in the visual/NIR spectrum and a thermal camera for animal spotting.
  • 1 × Mid-resolution thermal camera, e.g. LeopardImaging, Thermoteknix
  • 1 × Multi-spectral sensor, e.g. Tetracam MCA, MicaSense RedEdge, Parrot Sequoia
  • 1 × High-resolution camera ~10MPx
  • 1 × Fixed-wing UAV
  • 1 × Range-extender, e.g. solar-powered system (AltaDevices), fuel cell system ()(EnergyOr, HES), or hybrid system (GenSmart)

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chunky wrote 07/31/2018 at 23:23 point

https://valohai.com/showcase/marais-elephant/

this article mentions some softwares and may give ideas to the proyect.

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chunky wrote 06/22/2018 at 18:15 point

hmmm... was reading things and this came along

https://www.iothub.com.au/news/iot-enabled-cows-will-humans-follow-494207

...and I thought, what if this UAV works with other sensors -that create a map of how organisms have behaved -  deployed on the ground. Maybe in some animals or even in trees. 

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pascal.fust wrote 06/22/2018 at 20:33 point

Definitely an interesting idea. As far as I know, UAVs have already been applied to download via radio the stored data from GPS tracking devices, whenever they came along tagged animals. For animals that aren't territorial, this can be an effiicient approach.

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EngineerAllen wrote 07/27/2017 at 03:52 point

thermal imaging isnt low cost at all

and its a serious challenge in the heat of equatorial environments

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pascal.fust wrote 07/27/2017 at 06:26 point

Right, thermal sensors have failed in many occasions, particularly in tropical countries, but also e.g. in Mongolia, that's why we're investigating spectral particularities in the NIR range. If interested, you might want to check the work of Terletzky et al. 2012 (http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.2747/1548-1603.49.4.597?journalCode=tgrs20)

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EngineerAllen wrote 08/05/2017 at 18:47 point

what if the environment is the same temperature as the animals?

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EngineerAllen wrote 02/16/2017 at 11:30 point

i know there are conservation organisations already using drones but they definitely need better drones

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pascal.fust wrote 07/26/2017 at 19:03 point

Thanks for your feedback. I totally agree, however, most of the time the issue is money. While many projects about rhino and elephant poaching get significant funds, conservation of their habitats and less prominent, though not less iconic (e.g. giraffe) species is always short of funding. That's why I'm looking into a highly efficient way of data acquisition to push costs as low as possible.

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