New technology, like drones, are constantly changing our perspectives, especially when it comes to game viewing. But it’s not all fun and games, drones are also put to good use as conservation tools, says freelance writer, EMMA MILLS.

For many, Africa is a wildlife paradise only ever seen on television programmes presented by the likes of Sir David Attenborough. 

However, many others are able to see Africa’s great beasts first hand on safaris or personal holidays. Seeing these animals first hand is an amazing life experience, but new technology is slowly changing our perspectives.

First off, think about the invention of the portable video camera in the 80s and 90s. As it got more compact, it was easier to film our experiences. Then came the digital camera with a near endless capacity to store photos as well as upload them to laptops. Next came the multi-use smartphone with the less-than-loved selfie-stick.

Now, however, tourists and locals alike have a new tool to deploy. It takes video footage and can take high resolution photographs to, but it is more mobile and presents a wider range of views than something we need to hold ourselves. The drone can be controlled from the ground but provide aerial views, swooping panoramas and can get closer to animals than it is safe for a human to do.

Drones are not just for fun

African countries and international wildlife protection agencies are pioneering the use of drones as something other than a military weapon or a hobbyist toy. As mentioned above, there are many endangered animals in the wild being poached to extinction for their horns, tusks, pelts, or other body parts used in fake medicine, or adults killed so their offspring can be turned into pets in the Middle East.

It is now easy to see how drones are being used to protect elephants, rhinos, lions, leopards and so on. This protection allows conservationists to monitor wildlife populations and movements, while doing the same for poachers. In knowing their whereabouts, wildlife protection teams can be better deployed to fight off and hopefully arrest poachers. Furthermore, the ability for drones to monitor wildlife actually keeps wardens safer because while the animals need our help, they do not always know it and are all dangerous.

Drones Promoting Safer Tourism

Footage from wildlife protection drones as well as those videos made by responsible tourists and tourism companies often go viral. This can both be used to inspire people to donate to charities and organisations, but also to promote the idea of responsible, sustainable tourism. Furthermore, these videos help educate children about what it means to be an animal in the wild. This is more realistic a picture than an animal wary of nearby humans. It is possible to find drone footage in Africa on video sharing sites like YouTube and AirVuz.

However, before you take your drone on safari in Africa, do read up on local rules. Every country and often within localities within countries, have their own zoning rules. For example, in Canada it is not legal to fly a drone in National Parks. Check with your travel company or with local officials before taking your drone out there. Furthermore, it is important to know how to responsibly act around animals and how to use a drone safely so they are not stressed or startled. Just because you are not near them does not mean someone else is.