Aircraft surveillance is used to prevent poaching by locating of threatened animals in the reserves, which is crucial in order to deploy ground rangers as protection for the these animals. Aircrafts are also used in a more aggressive role, when following up on tracks and spotting of actual suspected poachers on the ground. In both situations, having an aircraft in the air with a pair of eys in the sky makes a big difference to the protection.
This comes with challenges, as operating these aircrafts can be extremely challenging. The role of the aircraft has changed in conservation, as in the past helicopters were used to do animal monitoring. They are however a high running cost aircraft, but didn’t have to be in the air for extended periods of time. As the need for air support increases with the escalating poaching, so have the cost of flying and it was evident that new solutions had to be found. This is where the Bathawk Ultra Light aircraft came in.
Wildhood’s goal is to help support the reserves with air patrols in the area where Wildhood operates, in order to give extra protection to the threatened species.
Air patrols are useful in order to
Spot and follow up on suspected poachers
Quickly deploy ground rangers where there are animals in need
F4R is Wildhood’s chosen air patrol partner
Wildhood Foundation’s local partner in the sky F4R (Flying for Rhino & Conservation) have great experience in anti-poaching operations. F4R have over time flown and tested numerous different aircrafts and settled on the Bathawk Ultra Light. An aircraft perfect for the task as it has a low fuel consumption, slow speed, good field of visibility and can handle the more severe weather conditions in emergencies.
The funds raised for F4R will go straight to flight hours used for conservation, anti-poaching operations and animal protection in the field of Greater Kruger Area, South Africa.
Using the Bathawk for protection
The aircraft of choice, the locally manufactured Bathawk, is developed for the task and has become the aircraft of choice for conservation work all over Africa.
In relation to other aircrafts this plane has a forgiving handling characteristics and a relatively low running cost. The hours that the aircraft need to be in the sky on a daily basis is depending on area of deployment but on average the optimal presence is 3-4 hours a day.
1 hour of anti-poaching flight = 1200 SEK
The cost covers pilot, fuel, maintenance and insurance. The aircraft needs to fly an average of 1,8 hours a day and the total need is 55 hours per month.
Flying for Rhino and Conservation
This is a group of dedicated people who offer their expertise as pilots and conservationists to support the anti-poaching work and ground rangers in the Greater Kruger National Park, South Africa.
Over the past years they have faced all challenges to keep the the aircraft safely flying with good maintenance, as well as on going training for the pilots as the role of the aircraft and pilots developed.
The type of low level flying required to perform the tasks of locating animals before the poachers do, as well as locating and following poachers from the air, is an extremely risky mission which requires a completely different mindset and approach from a normally trained pilot.