Monitoring the distribution range and spatial utilization of wildlife within a certain region or reserve is critically important. The distribution helps determine the carrying capacity of a specific species based on elements like competition, food and water availability and natural boundaries. Monitoring spatial utilization also provides important information for key species that require focused protection, like rhinoceros. Knowing an animal’s spatial distribution allows counter-poaching units to determine certain movement patterns and anticipate the animal’s future locations as well as potential areas of concern like fences or roads lines.
Outgrowing Traditional Tracking Methods
For years, endangered spices have been darted and fitted with GPS trackers, allowing park rangers to determine the accuracy of animals’ movements and their location at any time of day or night. These GPS transmitters have been modified over time and most are now located in collars fitted around the neck of the animal, but the battery life and weight of these collars are less than optimal.
In response, new age radio collars have been developed and ground-truthed to a stationery radio receiver providing more frequent readings (up to one every 30 seconds) and allowing the collar to be active for 18-24 months; however, there is still a major limiting factor: the collar has to be in the line of site with the receiver, thus significantly reducing the distribution range and the collars’ effectiveness.
In an effort to overcome this limitation, Danoffice IT has entered into a collaboration with a Danish manufacturing company specializing in miniature tracking devices for wildlife protection, monitoring and wildlife management to design a tailored solution around the integration of two technologies: Micro RFID-TAGs and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
Danoffice hopes this solution will take the technology to the next level. By integrating the two technologies, the information received by the UAV from the Micro-TAGs will be delivered directly to a ranger post live during flight. Danoffice also foresees the benefit for farmers, who can use the technology to monitor cattle and other livestock in remote grazing areas.
The Micro-TAG uses a small low-power microprocessor and RF-transceiver enabling two-way communication, and sends a unique ID number for each TAG. The built in battery makes it operable for a minimum of five years. The TAG will be fitted into the traditional collars, and only weighs 18g or zero, 64 ounces.
This blog is the first in a series of conservation innovation articles provided by Danoffice IT in an effort to facilitate collaborative learning and community knowledge sharing on the topic of conservation technologies.