From the skies

Technology and nature working at its best.

If ever there is a year that Australia has shown its resilience 2020 has to be a contender. The last 12 months have certainly produced a series of events that have tested even the strongest. From extreme weather conditions to the country shutting down from a global pandemic, 2020 has certainly left its mark.

Undoubtedly many of us recall the severe bushfire season which saw a state of disaster declared in most states throughout Australia. Hundreds of fires tor throughout the country leaving a path of charred devastation, shattered dreams, lost lives, and a mass toll on our wildlife populations. Images of our iconic koalas burnt and trying to flee smouldering landscapes are forever etched in our memories. It is estimated more than 12.6 million hectares burned and nearly 1.25 billion animals perished. Impactful statistics that are hard to imagine.

The focus of attention is now turned to ensuring long-term plans and projects are in place to restore and future-proof our forests and wildlife back to better than ever before. Ericom, one of Australia’s premier technology solutions companies, was approached by NSW based Tetra Tech to source and deliver specialised equipment that will assist their Eco Logical Australia division to measure current Koala and other native wildlife populations.

Tetra Tech’s CIO Henric Wettergren said “It was important for us to consider ways that would allow us to establish accurate data from areas that are not easily accessible to humans. We figured the most effective way to observe, was to head to the skies. When we contacted the team at Ericom and told them our mission, there was no question that their passion equalled ours”.

Human spotters make foreign noises when walking in bushland causing animals to forage and hide making it hard to keep score reliably. The introduction of cutting-edge drone technology allows the Eco Logical team to locate and count wildlife in a non-invasive and more accurate method.

The team turned to Rise Above, experts in custom drone solutions to help engineer the right technology for the task. Two different types of drones are being used as part of this project, the DJI Matrice 300 RTK features a heat signature camera that allows body heat tracking of an animal and is the latest commercial drone platform taking inspiration from modern aviation systems. The second drone is used to collect water samples allowing the team to quickly analyse the water quality ensuring it is safe for consumption. The DJI Matrice 600 has been especially helpful to get to hard-to-reach areas, it is also equipped with aerial photography capabilities.

Through continued innovation in technology, we are able to achieve greater insights into native animal species to monitor their health and the health of their habitat in an endeavour to protect them from extinction.

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