Drones Are Sniffing Out Illegal Logging in Madagascar

With a "banana-tree assisted landing" thrown in for good measure.

They're buzzing high over seal pods in Alaska. They're flying across Africa as means to protect critically endangered herds of white rhino. They're inadvertently dropping in on moose in Norway. More and more, small-fry drones are proving their mettle as promising tools for wildlife monitoring that are equally inexpensive and easy to use. But they're also proving to be worth their weight in poacher bones in another robo-eco sector: Drones hold serious potential when it comes to natural resource management.

Take this gorgeous field-drone footage shot over Madagascar's eastern littoral forest. (While I'm at it: This is how you cut together a FPV drone video. No cornball nu metal. A flick of humor, and minimal use of cheesy wipes. Just some soft drone set beneath those sweeping pans--let your footage speak for itself.) The conservation project was headed up by Zuzana Burivalova, a PhD candidate at the Applied Ecology & Conservation Lab, ETH Zurich. From the Kianjavato Ahmanson Field Station in Kianjavato to Masoala National Park, Tampolo, and finally to Ambohitralalana, a littoral forest devastated by cyclone in 2000, then burnt repeatedly, Burivalova and her team deployed a small glider to monitor the ecological ramifications of illegally razing local stands of Rosewood and Ebony trees. With a "banana-tree assisted landing" thrown in, for good measure.    

To give you an idea for the advantage drones offer in this growing field, here are a few stills Burivalova and her colleagues pulled from their tour of Madagascar: 

All images via Zuzana Burivalova / AECL

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