Think drones are just for the military, industrial organizations, and hobbyists? They’re also being put to use fighting the illegal poaching of animals all over the world. Back Channel has an interesting essay detailing their use in anti-poaching efforts, including a look at how the Sea Shepherd conservation organization uses one:
They planned to use the drone to film for their show on the Animal Planet channel, but it immediately became apparent how useful a remotely operated aircraft was in waging Sea Shepherd’s particular kind of war. It was easier and safer to use than the manned helicopter on board. It could fly in foggy weather without imperiling lives. Maybe most important, it allowed Sea Shepherd to more easily gather footage — evidence of what they say is illegal activity. Regulations prohibit a manned helicopter coming within 500 yards of a ship. But drones could hover right next to a boat and film. Ever since they got that first drone, except for one year, the Japanese whalers have succeeded in catching less than one-third of their quota, Paul Watson, Sea Shepherd’s founder, told me.