Drones and Aerial Methods

Page 1


Drones are flying devices that can be controlled from the ground using a remote control to push elephants out of farms towards safety.

They are a high-cost, high-tech solution that allows rangers/authorized persons to rapidly respond to mitigate conflict to protect both humans and elephants.

Flying drones sound like a swarm of bees

When elephants are faced with a moving, flying drone that sounds like a swarm of bees, they will quickly move out of an area away from the direction of the sound.

Scientists have known for years that drones flown too close to wildlife, elephants included, have the capacity to disturb and even direct them towards a given point.

Hahn et al. confirmed this in their 2017 case study, showing with a 100% success rate that elephants can be effectively chased with human-elephant conflict using

Drones can be used to capture videos and photos as well, which allows researchers to understand elephant movement and behaviour, hence helping to mitigate conflict.


Read more on: Research done to prove drones sound like bees

Other aerial methods include using a helicopter to chase elephants safely out of settlements and farms.

The Mara Elephant Project (MEP) this purpose and it is an essential tool in their conflict toolkit.

Read more on The Only Helicopter in the Mara. Mara Elephant Project. However, some elephants may have already habituated to the loud sounds. In the case of female herds, the matriarch together with older elephants, may stand their ground to protect their babies.

https://vimeo.com/435717204 , https://vimeo.com/465705025 , https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D4-ZVdW1p3w&feature=youtu.be

Case study

In 2016, MEP partnered with RESOLVE and the Tanzanian Wildlife Research Institute to begin a drone-based humanelephant conflict training program for rangers within the Tarangire and Serengeti National Parks in Tanzania.

Read more on: https://maraelephantproject.org/mep-staff-trained-to-operate-drones-for-conservation/

Drones were used a total of 51 times to drive off elephant herds, at 38 farms and 13 settlements within the protected ecosystems.

The operation had a 100% success rate.

They found that sweeping the drone back and forth behind the elephants in a herding fashion is the safest way to prevent elephants from turning back towards people.

5 trained teams of wildlife managers deployed drones in response to elephant crop raiding events during peak maize harvest. Watch Protecting Kenya’s Elephants from Above.

MEP developed a “Drone Flying Manual” for this program which is available by request to help other organizations use drones to reduce conflict.

See Elephant Aware Behaviour for more information
Watch how elephants are safely pushed out of farms:

Known countries drones are being used

Eastern, Central, and Southern Africa:


Burkina Faso






Do you have a case study to share of successful drone use in your country?


Cheaper to maintain than a helicopter.

Safer to fly and control.

No runway needed to land the drone.

It can be remote controlled on the ground, at a safe distance from the elephants.

Effective in chasing elephants out of farms & compounds.

If handled with care, it can be long-term.

Drone technology and batteries are improving all the time.


1. Legality & permission

You must apply to receive legal permits and drone pilot licenses needed to own a drone in Kenya.

Failure to secure a license could result in fines or even jail time.

2. Elephant habituation

Drones have the potential to be an effective elephant deterrent, however there is little research on habituation and the long-term efficacy of this technique.

Studies show other elephant deterrent methods, such as Noise Deterrents and Trip Alarms, become less effective over time, while others such as beehive fences remain effective.

Watch more on drones
See Beehives fences for more information 3.

3. Disturbance

Some studies have noted that drones may disturb wildlife

Various species of birds, reptiles, and mammals have all been recorded shifting behaviour in response to drones.

4. Training

All drones require trained experts to operate effectively.

5. Ethics

Drones may interrupt people’s privacy, as most drones have the ability to capture photos and videos

6. Costs

Drones are high-cost devices.

The more advanced the drone type, the higher the cost of buying and maintaining it.

Training people to fly drones will further add to the cost.

Some drones are less effective at night as they may be difficult to fly in the dark.

There is a higher risk of it crashing or flying too close to the elephants. http://moef.gov.in/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/HEC-management-guideline-Final1.pdf

The average time an affordable drone will fly is 20-25 minutes The batteries need to be recharged thereafter.


Do not misuse drones, especially within a certain distance of any airport/secure location/country borders, where restrictions are highest.

Violations of these regulations can lead to large fines and possibly jail time.

Fly drones with care to prevent them from crashing or getting stuck on trees.

Always ensure you are flying drones at a safe distance from wildlife and people, to prevent injuries.

Credits and Disclaimer:

We have collected the information above from multiple sources that are sourced throughout the document. Main source includes: Connor Bennet and Mara Elephant Project (MEP). This manual is not extensive. To learn more and explore further about Drones and Aerial Methods, see References. Some original words commonly used have been simplified for easy understanding. Save the Elephants advises caution with all the information collected and presented in this toolbox. Further research may be required before each site-specific implementation.

* Save the Elephants is not liable for any costs, damages or injuries incurred by the use of these methods or information.

Produced by Save the Elephants www.savetheelephants.org
Made in Kenya 2022
Illustrations by Nicola Heath Rebolo-Ifrán, N., Graña Grilli, M., & Lambertucci, S. A. (2019). Drones as a Threat to Wildlife: YouTube Complements Science in Providing Evidence about Their Effect. Environmental Conservation, 46(3), 205–210. https://doi.org/10.1017/s0376892919000080

Turn static files into dynamic content formats.

Create a flipbook
Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.