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Drones utilized for monitoring wildlife, forest fires in southern Vietnam

Thursday, January 31, 2019, 14:22 GMT+7
Drones utilized for monitoring wildlife, forest fires in southern Vietnam
A forest protection drone are meant to minimize the number of encounters local farmers have with wild elephants in Dong Nai Province, southern Vietnam. Photo: N.V.C. / Tuoi Tre

The southern Vietnamese province of Dong Nai is hoping that incorporating a fleet of drones into its environmental protection plan will give local forest rangers an edge in monitoring local wildlife and preempting forest fires.

In addition to several drones, the provinces forest protection squad is also being outfitted with new camcorders, still cameras, and binoculars, according to Le Viet Dung, deputy head of the forest department in Dong Nai, a southern province neighboring Ho Chi Minh City.

The drones are able to reach altitudes of 500 meters and can fly within an eight-kilometer range on the controller.

According to Dung, the drones were purchased as part of a local initiative primarily aimed at protecting wild elephants in the area. 

In just the first few weeks of 2019, local farmers have reported several incidents of herds of three to eight elephants destroying crops, said Nguyen Van Chieu, the leader of a local forest protection agency. 

Though forest rangers are on call to head to the scene and safely drive the animals away, the drones are expected to minimize their response times and intervene before the animals come in contact with angry farmers, Chieu explained.

Wild elephants in Dong Nai province are known to destroy local crops, like these banana trees from a local farm. Photo: N.V.C. / Tuoi Tre
Wild elephants in Dong Nai province are known to destroy local crops, like these banana trees from a local farm. Photo: N.V.C. / Tuoi Tre

The drones are just the latest measure put in place to curtail encounters between elephants and farmers. 

In July 2017, the forest department built a 50-kilometer-long electric fence meant to deter wild elephants from trespassing on agricultural land, but the elephants quickly found their way to the fence’s end and continued wreaking havoc on local crops.

Local authorities intend to extend the electric fence by an additional 20 kilometers in order to increase its effectiveness.

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