Drones used to monitor Koala population

The Queensland University of Technology are employing drones to assist in monitoring Koala population and distribution. This is important work that could help to improve our understanding of this incredibly vulnerable species and improve the resolution of data collected in our annual Koala Count.

Excerpt from abc.net.au news article:

"Queensland researchers are hoping drones will aid in the conservation of threatened species like koalas.

Traditionally, koalas were counted by people on the ground but now they can be tracked by robots from the air.

Researchers fitted drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), with infrared cameras to better detect the creatures.

QUT drone technician Gavin Broadbent said they were a little bit sceptical it would work, but they were filled with confidence when the images came through.

"We saw the koalas were very distinct compared to the trees and the environment so we thought, yes this is absolutely a proof of concept," he said.

Hovering above the tree tops, the cameras detect the animals' body heat and beam pictures straight back to the team of researchers on the ground.

Computer software helped distinguish koalas from other creatures that might be in the trees.

The first test flight was in bushland surrounding Australia Zoo on Queensland's Sunshine Coast earlier this month."


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  • In my experience Australia's drop bears are an order of magnitude more difficult to detect with the naked eye than Koalas - so probably not.  I have never actually seen one with my own eyes, but my dad certainly spotted a few back when I was a lad.  They only come out after dark too... which complicates the use of RPAS technology (night flight).

    I am not so sure that there is much need for this sort of research when it comes to Drop Bears anyway.  After all.. The availability and ease of access to their primary food source (campers and tourists) is increasing rapidly (baby boomers becoming grey nomads in record numbers + depressed Aussie dollar driving resurgence of inbound tourists).  Furthermore, the species itself is neither threatened or vulnerable.

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