A drone hovers above Tanzania’s Tarangire National Park its function is to herd on-the-move elephants away from danger.
The bee-like buzzing ushers the world biggest land animal away from the threat posed by human beings.
Elephants are poisoned, attacked with spears and arrows or shot for raiding crops and wandering into villages.
The drone is the perfect protector monitoring the mammals while covering difficult terrain.
Initial trials of the drone have thrown up some positive results.
Nadia De Souza is a researcher for Biodiversity and Wildlife solutions:
“So far they seem to be responding really well, I mean, all of the trials that we’ve done so far, they’ve moved away from the drones really quickly whether they were in the fields or whether they were just out of the crops so it’s been pretty positive so far but we still need a lot more data to collect and be certain of the statistics.”
Biologist David Olson believes it is only a matter of time before the smart creatures get used to the drone’s bee-like buzzing.
So moves are being put in place to train rangers to fly drones carrying chili powder.
Elephants don’t like chili!
David Olson is a Biologist with Biodiversity and Wildlife Solutions
“I think elephants are smart enough to know that at night when they’re in the crops, feeding on water melons and corn that bees aren’t swarming, I think pretty quickly they’ll get used to it and that’s why we are exploring the use of dropping very light covers of chili powder in the air to alert them.”
Olson believes that drones are a realistic option to protect elephants because their maintenance costs are low and they can survive tough conditions in the wild.
Training more rangers to fly the drones means they will have fewer one-on-one interactions with the endangered species, reducing the risk of possible danger.