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By Colin Daileda: The tribe used string, a GoPro camera and instructional YouTube videos to build the drone.
For years, a tribe in Guyana has been compiling evidence that loggers were illegally tearing down their forests. But nothing has worked as well as their latest effort: a new drone, which they built using a GoPro-donated camera and some string, with YouTube videos as their guide.
The Wapichan tribe, one of several indigenous groups in Guyana, built their fixed-wing drone to support a camera that snaps a picture every two seconds, Quartz reported in a story on the tribe.
The device is able to travel more than 30 miles at a time, and its photos help stitch together a map of tribal land that is being abused by the loggers.
The tribe hopes to use that evidence as leverage to compel the Guyanese government to stop the activity.
The Wapican’s UAV is just the latest of a number of drones that have been deployed on behalf of conservation efforts, representing the cutting edge of preservation technology.
Just last year, a conservation drone won Dubai’s Drones For Good competition for its ability to transmit wildlife data from so-called “camera traps” used to track animals.
Such drones have also been used to track poachers throughout parts of Africa and Asia, and are helping save dwindling populations of lions, elephants and rhinos.
They can count crane populations in California, monitor poachers in Africa and protect Indonesian orangutans.
And they can do all of this much more efficiently than teams of ground-based conservationists.
“Let’s say you’re trying to protect the entire coastal zone of Gabon,” David Wilkie, director of conservation measures at the Wildlife Conservation Society, told National Geographic late last year. “You could do it with just two long-running fixed-wing UAVs flying constantly. And they could be auto-piloted by someone sitting in an office in the capital.”
Conservation drones can even save the lives of scientists who, without drones, would have to fly into obscure and dangerous locations to collect the data they need.
The Wapichan hope their drone will save their own lives, in a way.
As loggers continue to threaten nearby forests, so too do the loggers threaten the Wapichan way of life. (Mashable.com)