I'm working for environmental and anti poaching organizations in Africa. The problem is that there is often not enough personnel to patrol the entire area. We're loosing a lot of game.

We're therefore looking for a low cost, affordable reconnaissance UAVs as an alternative to more expensive existing UAV systems or manned airplanes.

It should possess the following attibutes: 

- operational range of 3 km

- weatherproof design that can resist hot temperatures



- real time video transmission

- cost between $1000 - $ 3000

Could you recommend us any models? 

Thank you, man! Your help is greatly appreciated!

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Thanks to all of you for your advise! You're champions.

However, I believe that some of the arguments put forward against UAVs are not accurate. Maybe poachers can avoid drones by  just going behind or under a bush. But the same holds true for manned airplanes. Maybe poachers can shoot at a drone. But they can also shoot at a manned ultralight aircraft. 

So I still believe that UAVs are a low cost alternative to many manned air vehicles and thus a useful tool in anti poaching.

Remember, we don't want to shoot the poachers with them. We just want to observe the area from above and if I look at many videos here on diydrones.com I think that amateur drones can do the job very well.

Well, I wish you the best of luck. At least you'll have fun trying. I have worked on and off in the bush for 20 years, my first UAV/FPV experience was in 2009, recently I have flown FPV on a UAV plane (and quadcopter) and taken photographs from a UAV. I have also had experience with poachers, tracking them and catching them. On the "ground" it's a totally different story.

On the conservation side this thread might be of some interest, read the whole thing and look closely at the photos and you might get an idea of the difficulties involved: http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=378366 , check the photos that I took of Cape Buffalo from the air, they go to 800kg and are tiny in the photo's and they aren't trying to hide!

As I said I believe a UAV's best role would be as a visible and audible deterrent working psychologically on the poachers.


Thank you, I appreciate this.

am also in SA and have been thinking of the same idea, infact I went as far as designing an Anti-Poaching UAV during my summer holidays. I know of two aero companies who have been working on this idea. Paracreo and Denel Saab. If u really interested i can hook u up with relevent contacts of this two. An AP-UAV is probably wat we r looking for. I wont divulge information as to how the 1 i was involved in wwork bcos its part of the company policy not to reveal information about any of the projects. However i can give u some specs we've been working on:

 - range (covering Kruger National Park) ...so its a fly out-of-aircraft. KNP is de largest park in SA so a uav dat covers dis would be sufficient to cover any of the smaller parks around South Africa.

  - Endurance - we have been looking at 8 hrs without refuelling.

  - could probably be classified as a MALE but smale than this.

What also might work  as an added feature to any development  to psychologically deter these poachers might be the use of some kind of (at least what appears to be ) a laser pointer used to give them the impression that these UAV'S are ARE in fact "armed".

As for night vision, let me please share with you  what I believe MIGHT be a helpful you tube video


Hope that helps at least a little.


I completley disagree with the notion that UAVs cannot be quiet. I have witnessed an entirely silent (actually metered) 12' uav flying overhead at 500' with completely audibly undetectable. The key is avoiding 2-stroke engines and getting your prop speed down. My recommendations:

Hobbyking 2350mm L-4 Grasshopper ARF (its actually the L-3B, but that's another story) ($200)

Honda GX25 4-stroke engine ($200) - go with an 18x12 or 18x10 prop for this RPM range, also look at 3 or 4 bladed props

APM w/telemetry and Airspeed ($500)

Roll your own FPV setup on 5.8ghz ($250)

Servos and TX/RX ($350)

So call it $1500 as a rough estimte for a near-silent uav. The sky is the limit as your desires for better range and video quality increase. Some are using HD COTS cameras with remarkable quality for a fration of the cost. The other points of how you are actually going to stop them is another case entirely. Hope this helps




I believe that Denel is developing an anti-poaching drone for Conservation. I believe it to be adapted from one of the Seeker series. Hopefully it'll be a true anti-poaching drone and have armament, not a oh-hell-what-just-happened drone or a look-theres-movement-but-we-are-half-a-day-away drone. But, it probably won't come to be. I seem to remember a call for the development of a quad, but haven't heard if anyone answered that call.

A drone could be useful for urban and semi-urban policing, but that of course depends on your video capture ability. SAPS can't afford any military-grade drones.

On a side note, until recently I wasn't aware that Denel developed any UAVs. They claim to have a 20 year head start on the rest of the world, but have suffered major funding problems. Just like the Rooivalk...

As pointed out, you're going to have trouble with getting the video and doing anything useful with it.

I would suggest that you have several UAVs in the air at any given time.  Equip them with microphones!

Why?  Because with GPS and the high precision time from the GPS you can use the microphones to triangulate any gunshots.  That way you'll instantly get a fairly accurate fix on any gunshots.

Hi Jerry,

We have had the opportunity to introduce the Drone concept to a very well known Game Park. We flew for some new Green Scorpions at the time. They loved the idea, because as the Security Chief of the Game Park mentioned, they have quad bikes, men on horse, men on foot, men in bakkies(trucks).....but nothing in the air. We had at the time 2 cameras on the drone, and could switch between the two, one with a wide angle, and one with a fixed zoom.

Yes and as Graham mentioned....it is freaking hard to spot someone behind a bush. But even with these limitations the Game Park still thinks its an awesome idea. We are trying to get hold of a thermal camera to enhance the concept. Waiting for funds to come through.

Regarding your budget......$1000 -$3000....that you will have to multiply by 3 or so, for a basic setup. 

I hope this gives you a better picture!



Closest thing to your problem is:


Their Bramor UAV is superb military grade product available for general market.

Hi There i am looking for exactly the same thing!!

have you found anything?

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