Eyes in the sky
Aircraft surveillance is used to assist with the locating of animals quickly. This is crucial in order to deploy ground rangers quickly as protection for these animals. We have also lately seen aircrafts being used in a more aggressive role, in the following up and spotting of actual suspected poachers on the ground.
This comes with challenges, as we see the need for aircraft in anti-poaching activities, we find that dedicated people on the ground now have to support and maintain aircraft in remote areas. And operating these aircrafts can be extremely challenging.
The role of the aircraft has changed in conservation. In the past helicopters were used to do animal monitoring. They are a high running cost aircraft, but were not required to be in the air for extended periods of time. As the need for air support increased with the escalating poaching, so have the cost of flying helicopters and it was evident that new solutions had to be found.
Wildhood’s goal with Air Patrol
We want to help providing free air support to the reserves and parks in need to assist in protected endangered species.
Air patrols are useful in order to:
Follow up and spot actual suspected poachers.
Quickly deploy ground rangers where there’s animals in need.
F4R is Wildhoods chosen air force partner
Wildhood Foundation’s local partner in the sky F4R (Flying for Rhino & Conservation) have over time flown and tested numerous different aircrafts and settled on an aircraft that is perfect for the task – 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 by Wildhood to support “eyes in the sky” will go straight into the support of F4R:s training, flying and maintaining of aircrafts used for conservation and anti-poaching operations and animal protection in the field of Greater Kruger Area.
Using the Bathawk for surveillance
The aircraft of choice, the totally 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 very forgiving handling characteristics and a relatively low running cost. The hours that the aircraft need to be in the sky on a daily basis – on average 4-5 hours a day depending of area of deployment – requires funding. Both for purchasing more aircrafts, but mainly to train and deploy pilots and fill the engine with fuel.
1 hour of flight = 1000 SEK
Flying for Rhino and Conservation
They are a group of dedicated people who offer their expertise as pilots and conservationists to support rangers in the Greater Kruger National Park, Trans Frontier Park and the private reserves around the same area.
Over the past 2 years and thousands of hours flown 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 a extremely risky mission which requires a completely different mindset and approach from a normally trained pilot.
Other types of patrols we support at Wildhood
Patrol dogs walk in the bush with handlers, sweep for snares, carcasses, spoor or any unusual activity. Read all about the important work they do here.
Rangers have extreme skills in visual tracking, which remains the primary means of gathering information about criminal activities in their protected area. Read all about the important work they do here.
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