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Drone Technology

 

Eyes in the Sky

Since 2012 the SOCP has been working closely with Dr Lian Pin Koh and Dr Serge Wich and colleagues at conservationdrones.org to develop innovative remote control aerial surveillance “drones”.

These are basically just standard remote controlled aircraft, adapted to carry either video or still photographic equipment, and equipped with an autopilot system. The autopilot can be pre-programmed to fly at any height and follow a particular route, such as following the forest edge, or to cover a given area with a specifically designed transect system.

The on board still camera can also be programmed to ensure photos overlap, so that they can then be stitched together to produce a mosaic, and even tied to a less detailed satellite image, giving a much more detailed view of a selected area of the image. In this way, we are able to survey areas that would be very difficult to reach otherwise, up to as far as 20km or more from a launch site.

Potential uses for this new technology seem limitless. Not only do they include habitat monitoring and research, we have even been able to photograph orangutans in trees, and their nests, and hope in the future to be able to detect radio transmitter chips implanted into reintroduced orangutans. If we are able to do this, it would be an enormous help in monitoring the progress of orangutans newly reintroduced to the wild, something which is not always so easy on foot only.

Currently, the SOCP team primarily flies with the Skywalker fixed-wing airframe.  However, we also have a selection of multirotor copters, and are also fortunate to have an 8 rotor microcopter, generously donated by “Ziggy” of www.mikrokopter.us.

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To counteract the explosive extinction of the Sumatran rainforest, the Orangutan Coffee Project supports coffee farmers in the highland of Gayo, Aceh province to manage their plantations in an ecological and sustainable way.

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Special premiums from Orangutan Coffee trade reward both local coffee farmers and also support the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme.

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