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  • McCaldin, Graham, Gary, et all,

    You are still missing the point, because of your own perceived "expert" status on these issues you are simply attacking one of the few positive bits of news coverage about the use of drones.

    The article has a very positive "spin" and your objections are all based on normal news hyperbola.

    For the public that is completely irrelevant, they live in the constant world of that hyperbola (and mostly don't even know it).

    From the standpoint of news exposure, this was certainly no less objective than the average (and much more common utterly negative) story.

    And the surrounding justifications no more specious.

    Of course, resources are competed for and in the real world, positive and negative methods are always used to achieve the ends desired by the interested parties.

    We live in a world disgustingly at risk from that kind of self serving approach, but that is the world we live in.

    By an large this article was no worse or more unrepresentative of the truth than the myriad negative drone articles so singling it out for chastisement seems counter productive at best.

    And maybe more related to your own sense of self-entitled indignation.

  • Hi Guy,

    Give me a break, news coverage, is by definition inaccurate.

    Especially and always when it comes to drones.

    There is never an instance where the media is reporting any coverage about anything related to drones with even the slightest drop of objectivity.

    Demanding that a positive drone news "story" also be objective places a burden on positive stories that is certainly not the case in the myriad negative ones.

    The media loves drones because they can be depended on for inflaming privacy, security, safety, political and ethical issues.

    I don't really think any of us here are so naive as to simply take media reporting at face value, why is it that the very rare bit of positive reporting is expected to function to a higher standard.

    I guess what you are saying is that it's OK for negative reporting to be wildly prejudicial, but anything positive needs to be 100% verified for complete accuracy. - Bah!

    Best Regards,


  • Moderator

    I'm with Guy on this one, UA used in the day to day management of a park to better establish pattern of life will have more impact than the hero mission. Unless of course a major nation sends one of the platforms currently guarding oil prospecting operations of the coast north of here and south of Kenya. As they say follow the money. Big platforms are operating all over the region, anti poaching is not in their mission profile.

    In the tracking role my UA sadly been most effective in finding animals that have been snared. 

  • Moderator

    Gary, I don't think we shot the news bearer at all, we said the article is not an accurate representation of what's happening, nothing to or against Oliver at all. The fact that he brought it up is great so that a bit more of the truth can come to the surface.

    Guy, I likewise would love to see a blog on your perspective. We can all learn from each others experience and knowledge.

  • Great job guys, shoot the news bearer.

    I kind of think you missed the point.

    Oliver put this in without comment, basically a link to a Nationally publicized story that had a positive approach to the use of "drones" for actually providing a positive, worthwhile civilian value.

    He didn't say 96%, the articles with the same News media sensationalist hyperbola they always do said 96% which I am sure was the highly optimistic figure they were given by the promoters of this project.

    Of course it's not reliable, in fact virtually everything the media ever says about drones can be depended on to be 100% not reliable.

    But, they were at least using it in a positive way for a very rare change.

    Rather than blasting them or the beleaguered barer of it to our attention it might be a good idea to note that for a change, the media was actually on our side.

    That was really the point.

    In addition, it is certainly clear from a lot of sources that anti-poaching is likely to be one of the most significant early uses of civilian drones.

    And regardless of where you stand on the rights and needs of people versus animals issue, the prospects for the use of drones to protect species from actually going extinct has got to be mostly a good thing.

    So who gives a damn whether Kenya is the model of human rights and objective reporting, at least this trend is moving slightly in the right direction.

    Gary, I know you are an authority on Africa and witness daily the extreme behaviors related to inequality, but anti-poaching surveillance is a very important application and getting a little positive press out there has got to be helpful for all concerned interests.

    It will help to make other countries more receptive to it as well.

    Oliver brought this to all of us as an example of positive "drone" use and good media exposure - and it is that!

    Best Regards,


  • Oliver - Thanks so much for posting.
    Graham, Gary, Guy - Thanks so much for your insight.
    Guy - I really appreciate the links. Please do take the time to put together a dedicated post covering your experiences and perspective on this. I for one would be extremely interested in learning more.
  • And in other news...  is this story about Falcon UAV?

  • Moderator

    Yes I think I know which one it was as well Guy.

    There is a UAS story in South Africa that probably needs exposing, some chaps received $470,000 to fly anti poaching patrols. All they did was fly a nitro aircraft with zero sensors on board and made a noise for one month. The province concerned made great claims like the KWS ones of reduced poaching and when the numbers were added up it was actually the worst month for years. They incensed conservationists working in the park as they saw it as money down the drain. 

    I think though the over selling of unmanned aircraft is happening across multiple industries, they are great but often will not perform a task cheaper or quicker than methods currently employed.

    Poaching could very easily be controlled if the main puppet masters were not so well connected. I also worry that Rhino are the poster child whilst so much else is struggling it's entire ecosystems under threat not just single animal types. That of course is a worldwide issue. 

    It's a complex problem. Guy is very right about the social problems which persist and to be honest are not of any interest to folks in charge unless there is an election happening.

    This report is a little more realistic reading

    Wildebeest depend on migratory corridors and dispersal areas as they migrate out of protected areas to their seasonal habitats, often located in pastoral lands. Migratory corridors and dispersal areas usually cross human-dominated landscapes where land use practices are becoming increasingly incompatible with wildlife. As these areas are degraded or lost, severe declines in the wildebeest populations can result.

    In East Africa, the white-bearded wildebeest, found across Kenya and Tanzania as shown on Figure 1, is facing large declines due to incompatible land uses in their migratory corridors and dispersal areas (Estes and East, 2009). This has occurred as their migratory corridors and dispersal areas have become blocked or lost, limiting their migratory movements. The result has been the near collapse of many wildebeest populations. The exception to this general pattern is the Serengeti-Mara population, which increased six fold between 1963 and 1977 following the eradication of rinderpest, before stabilizing at its current population of approximately 1.3 million (Hopcraft et al., 2013). In southern Africa, the blue wildebeest is stable or increasing; although their numbers are still far lower than their 1960s levels (Estes and East, 2009).

    To name drop Richard Estes and his son are good friends of mine and this UAS journey started for me talking at the bar with them. I started with grand plans that have been honed by reality.

    More from another Guardian Article

    The war on African poaching: is militarisation doomed to fail?

    Still, the epidemic rages on, prompting many experts to argue that a wider effort is needed. A key failing, conservationists say, lies in the continent's justice systems, where evidence collection is often botched, prosecutions poorly handled, and judges often don't take wildlife crime seriously, which sends the message that poaching is no big deal. Although some low-ranking "triggermen" have been caught and jailed in South Africa, cases against higher-level kingpins have dragged out for years.

    In Kenya, conservationists were outraged when two guards implicated in a recent, brazen theft of ivory from an allegedly secure government stockpile were fired but not prosecuted. On July 1, a former U.S. defense attache, David McNevin, was caught at Nairobi airport with illegal ivory in his luggage. Despite the case's high profile, his only punishment was a fine of about $350.

    Incidents like these have amplified calls for poaching to be treated as seriously as drug smuggling and terrorism, with which, criminologists point out, it is often linked logistically and financially. President Obama's new task force on wildlife trafficking is heavily populated by representatives from the departments involved in anti-drug and anti-terror efforts.

    A little more on the new highway

    The route cuts across the Serengeti, bisecting the path that the huge wildebeest herds take in their annual migration between Kenya and Tanzania, from northern watering holes to their southern grazing pastures.

    And if the wildebeest are cut off from the Serengeti, environmentalists fear the park's delicate ecosystem would collapse.

    "If we remove the wildebeest migration as it is from the system, the Serengeti will never be the same again," says Markus Borner, founder of the campaign against the planned highway.

    His organisation, the Frankfurt Zoological Society, has its headquarters in the centre of the Serengeti.

    So the government has promised the section across the national park will remain a slower, gravel road.

    I am sorry if Graham, Guy and I seem harsh its borne of experience.

  • Moderator

    Considering the two moderators concerned both live in Africa, are both involved in drone conservation in Africa and have both spent quite a bit of time in Kenya and have seen what goes on there first-hand I'd say our skepticism and comments are pretty valid.

    One only has to look at the new highway being planned in the Serengeti slicing across one of the last remaining and largest mammal migration routes on the planet to see that money and not wildlife, calls the shots (unless the wildlife makes the money!)


    We're also realists that see the need to tell the truth just so that others may just have a little doubt cast regarding the propaganda coming from government departments. The fact that it's written in 'The Guardian' means very little as we've all seen how unknowing journalists can be fed sugar-laced information to put the authorities in the best light possible (especially regarding 'mysterious drones').  

    There are many other good drone stories regarding their use for good in wildlife conservation. ( (Others not mentioned but will be made public soon).

    I'm sorry your feel-good story isn't all that it's cracked up to be but what is fantastic is that many people ARE trying to do something about the ravaging poaching and habitat loss.

    Making sure the public is properly informed is much more important than letting them believe that drones have reduced poaching by 96% which is just BS.

    Note: At least TWO rhino's have been killed and their horns chopped off in the past 24 hrs since you made this blog post.

  • It is more than a little disturbing to see two DIYD moderators trash, without presenting a shred of evidence, a news story (from a globally recognized source, The Guardian) that is particularly positive in regard to "drones." What, are there anti-drone moles here? Because that's what this comes off looking like. Here's a "moderator" pro-tip: If you want to expound on the worthless status of drones in Kenya, please be so kind as to start your own thread (maybe at the National Enquirer) instead of hijacking mine. Thanks.

    Do not misunderstand me: Just because I'm pointing out that these negative comments are unsupported and IMO out of line does not mean I therefore believe the opposites to be true. For all I know there may well be corruption, incompetence, etc at play. Perhaps like at CALTRANS, say. But at the least the effort, and the reporting thereof, are among the more powerful positives to come our way for a while (see the large number of comments appended to the Guardian article). For people from this community to get all harsh about this is really strange.

    @ John Obrien:  No facts? There are all sorts of names and numbers in the Guardian article, if you have issues with any of those how about commenting with something more substantive than one word, "drek"? 

    Now, does anyone have something worthwhile to add here? Like maybe what sorts of UAVs are being used, deployment stories, training  procedures, who provided what, etc. You know, the kind of things most everyone here is  interested in? If so, some of us would love to hear more. 

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