Tanzania to use drones in a new anti-poaching initiative

Tuesday May 10 2016

The unmanned aerial vehicle Super Bat DA 50, to

The unmanned aerial vehicle Super Bat DA 50, to be used at Tarangire national park.. PHOTO | ADAM IHUCHA 


Tanzania is to deploy drones in Tarangire National Park in a new anti-poaching initiative.

This comes after the Ministry of Tourism gave the nod, following a trial deployment over Mkomanzi National Park.

“I would like to inform you that the ministry has authorised the proof of concept to go ahead,” wrote Tourism Permanent Secretary  in an April 21 letter to Tanzania Private Sector Foundation.

However, this initiative could face a hurdle as Tanzania National Parks Authority (Tanapa), the custodian of all 16 parks in the country insists the 2014 ban on unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in the parks is still on. 

“As of November 6, 2014, the use of the UAVs of different sizes for any purposes is not allowed in the national parks for security reasons,” said Tanapa in a statement.

Covering an area of 2,600 square kilometres, Tarangire National Park is best known for its large herds of  elephants.

An initial six-month deployment of Super Bat DA 50 and the required ground and monitoring equipment at the park is expected to provide real time information.

The operation will be carried out by Bathawk Recon, a Tanzanian start-up.  Tanzania People’s Defence Force will be attached at each station where the drones will be deployed.

“We have selected the Super Bat DA-50 in the six-month operation that will include, a fully functioning operation, trained operational personnel and a ranger protocol programme,” Bathawk Recon director Mike Chambers said.

According to Mr Chambers the kind of drone has day and the night capability, which will enable surveillance to be deployed any time, any place in the protection area.

Wider reach

“This will enable us to survey greater areas and protect larger parks and reserves. The concept will find poachers and illegal intruders and lead rangers to the location,” Mr Chambers added.

UAVs have been used in anti-poaching strategies South Africa, Kenya, Namibia and Nepal.

Poaching threatens Tanzania’s multibillion dollar tourism industry. Over the past six years, more than 80,000 of the country’s elephants have been slaughtered for their ivory.