Drones and conflict

A piece of equipment that has taken the world by storm over the years and have made people and governments weary as to its potential. It can do things that leave little to the imagination these days and some can even follow you around, whilst taking selfies. The negative connotation behind drones and what they can do has limited the potential use and exploration at times. It is used for the greater good but can be seen as intrusive, dangerous and lethal.

Drones in general are truly one of the best inventions of modern day eras and if respect is shown towards them and used appropriately they can make a huge difference within the conservation community and protection of wildlife. Don’t get me wrong; drones are used to patrol borders, scan landscapes for potential poaching incidents etc. but the impact they have on a smaller scale should be rewarded. Human wildlife conflict is a constant up hill battle due to human encroachment on habitat, general game decline, bush meat trade and the list can go on, therefore interactions between humans and wildlife are increasing daily and conflict in some areas are becoming more complex.


Drones have been used in some African countries to deter elephants at daytime from approaching agricultural farmlands. The damage one adult elephant can do to one crop could possibly bankrupt the owner, leaving him with only one option at most, which is to retaliate. We are past the stages of blaming individuals when they act upon their livelihood being threatened by an animal, but instead rather support those organizations working on the ground amongst communities developing and executing new methods (albeit it temporarily at times) that engages conflict.


Flying a drone when called upon by a farmer to assist at deterring a ‘problem animal’ daily is no long term solution but what one can take from this is that the farmers attitude towards the problem has changed and other alternative actions are executed at temporarily deterring an animal. When we think ‘problem animal’ we always come to the conclusion that these animals are constantly around human settlements causing havoc and instilling fear within villagers, but some are seasonal and others can be as small as a Quelea (a small bird that flocks with thousand that feeding on crop) These birds come seasonally to agricultural land and cause major damage to crop that is meant to feed thousands of civilians.

crop field

So did you know that drones could affectively be used to scare off these critters? Did you know that drones could be used to deter lions away from livestock when in the vicinity? It may be a day to day solution and not an effective long term answer to combat conflict (data required over an extended study period) but rather use this technology than not and protect species against other harsher retaliation methods.

Marnus Roodbol

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