Humane Society International harnesses drone technology to assist with Kangaroo Island wildlife search and rescue

By : Humane Society International February 28, 2020

Humane Society International is working with a specialist drone pilot to utilise new technology to assist wildlife search and rescue efforts across Kangaroo Island.

"This is the first time anyone has used the combination of high-tech infrared with spot lights and a 180X zoom lens camera to search and rescue for wildlife*. It is working so well we can see it will be a game changer enabling us to quickly locate and save animals,” said Douglas Thron, infrared drone pilot.

"Uptake of this technology can shave off countless hours of searching on the ground. Time is precious for these animals as they frequently die before they can be reached. I recommend infrared drones with spotlights become an essential part of the animal rescue tool kit.”

"In our initial rescue efforts, animals were on the ground in the bushfire zones and easy to find and provide immediate assistance,” said Nicola Beynon, Head of Campaigns at Humane Society International Australia.

"Now the animals are high in the trees and we have moved from rescuing burns victims to preventing a starvation event for the survivors. This has meant working with arborist Kai Wild to get to animals high in trees, and the introduction of infra-red drone searches and setting of humane koala traps is the third phase of the rescue operations.

"Deploying this technology is making rescue efforts much more efficient as we can quickly identify koala hot-spots and map these areas to help all the rescuers rapidly reach animals most in need.”

Humane koala traps are set at the base of trees and koalas make their way down the trunk in their own time which results in a very low stress capture. Humane Society International is working with Global Wildlife Support to build more of the humane traps, as time is running out for some of the animals in the worst hit areas.

Rescued animals are given vet checks at Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park and those with a clean bill of health are being rapidly released back into areas with plentiful food sources. Animals already suffering from malnutrition are cared for until they are ready to go back to the wild.

Drone footage and humane trap footage is available for download here.


* Equipment partially funded by WWF-Australia

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About HSI Australia

HSI concentrates on the preservation of endangered animals and ecosystems and works to ensure quality of life for all animals, both domestic and wild. HSI is the largest animal protection not-for-profit organisation in the world and has been established in Australia since 1994