Unmanned aerial systems, commonly referred to as drones, are a pricey investment but they are invaluable tools in the field of wildlife protection. Drones offer a non-invasive and more affordable way to provide population censusing and habitat assessment and can assist in the mapping of human influence in known snow leopard ranges.
Global Conservation Force is partnering with The Snow Leopard Conservancy (SLC) and The Rocky Mountain Cat Conservancy on this project. The Snow Leopard Conservancy has been extensively involved in snow leopard conservation efforts and population research for almost 20 years. They have worked to help establish community-based eco-tourism to aid as an alternative source of income to offset the financial burden snow leopards may place on households. The SLC has developed livestock predator-proofing programs for herders as well as being a leader in radio-tracking and trail camera monitoring. With all of the groundbreaking data that’s being collected, there are still many disadvantages to the current technology.
This drone will fly daily research routes, to study the distribution of predator-to-prey ratios, and help rangers keep an eye on these elusive mountain cats. Due to the conditions of the snow leopard range, this drone will allow rangers to reach the snow leopard habitat within minutes, instead of hours, or even days.