High Tech meets African Rhino

Aerial Ranger drones that secure wildlife from poaching and allow virtual viewing by wardens, researchers and tourists.
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Ol Pejeta Conservancy
Animals
Nanyuki
Kenya
4 Team Members

High Tech meets African Rhino is sponsored by Lemnos Labs, a hardware incubator based in San Francisco.

**NEWSFLASH**

Hurrah!! Huge thanks to our contributors.  We have surpassed our target contributions which is fabulous news and we now have drone parts on order.  Thank you so much.

Now that our IndieGoGo campaign is closed, you can still contribute here:

  • If you are based in the United Kingdom or Europe, you can donate using JustGiving. Click here to donate.
  • If you are based in the United States, you can donate using FirstGiving. Click here to donate.

Please do not stop contributing! Any extra received will be ring-fenced for the drones programme and will cover any ongoing operations costs and extra RFID tagging.  Who knows, if we have enough we can expand the drone fleet!


Help deploy an AERIAL RANGER to Ol Pejeta!  

A new unmanned aerial vehicle designed to protect endangered rhino. Read on below to learn about Ol Pejeta's drone programme and our efforts to protect some of the last rhino in the world.

As featured in Forbes OnlineBusiness InsiderAl Jazeera, The Telegraph and Scientific American among many others.

Ol Pejeta coverage


The Problem - Poaching of an Endangered Species

Welcome to Ol Pejeta, a 90,000 acre conservancy in Laikipia, Kenya.  

The conservancy contains 4 of the last 7 Northern White rhino in existence, a number of other endangered species, and the 'Big Five' (lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant and rhino).  Just imagine being one of the last seven humans alive (and no it is not as fun as your mind might be suggesting).

There is currently a poaching epidemic with countless rhino being slaughtered for their horns, which are believed to be a cure-all for illnesses. In a country with an average wage of just $1 a day, a rhino horn can bring in $12,000 (that’s 1 night’s work for over 30 years income).

Rhino Horns

Trying to keep track of endangered wildlife in an area 6x the size of Manhattan, and with a team of just 120 rangers, can be like finding needles in a hay-stack.  The teams urgently need aerial support so that they can ensure they are covering the areas most at risk. 

 

The Solution - An AERIAL RANGER

We believe a solution is at hand. It's an awesome solution because eventually it will also allow people all over the world, from homes to offices to schools and colleges, to take a virtual safari to an African wildlife conservancy. 

We have teamed up with Unmanned Innovation Inc to create specialist aerial drones to monitor and view wildlife on Ol Pejeta. Each drone can cover 50 miles, and fly for over one and a half hours. 

Unmanned Innovation Inc. will provide a customized drone using their proprietary autopilot system combined with a commercailly available plane developed for tornado research at the University of ColoradoUnmanned Innovation Inc. will provide a customized drone using their proprietary autopilot system combined with a commercailly available plane developed by UASUSA for tornado research at the University of Colorado.

The drones are fitted with a live streaming HD camera, which is gimbal mounted for 360o remote controlled viewing.

Sony HD Block camera with 20x optical zoom for up-close imagingSony HD Block camera with 20x optical zoom for up-close imaging

The rhino and other endangered species will be chipped with radio frequency ID (RFID) tags. Each chip gives an animal a unique identification number tied to our databases. 

Initial testing will be done using commercially available RFID tagsInitial testing will be done using commercially available RFID tags

Sensors on the drones can then recognize individual animals and use on-board GPS to store an image tagged with location coordinates. 

The drone and tagging system allows the conservancy to monitor the wellbeing of the wildlife, and to create a ton of data on animal movements and behavior.  The good news is that protecting wildlife means protecting tourism, and tourism mean more money for people in the local community, not just for a few poachers.

Phase one of the project is to get one drone out of the workshop in the US and up and working at Ol Pejeta in Kenya. If we can raise more then phase two is to extend the drone fleet and wildlife tagging program. After that, the future is to open up access for people all over the world. 

If you are interested in some facts and stats about the hardware, here are a few highlights:

  • Endurance: 90-120 mins
  • Flight Range: 75-125 km
  • Radio Range: 10-60 km 
  • Video Range: 10-40 km
  • Max Speed: 100 km/hr
  • RFID Coverage per flight: 4 to 12 square km (up to 3,000 acres)
  • Imaging Coverage per flight: approx 40 square km (10,000 acres)

 

Rewards

Check out our rewards where you can purchase an animal tag and have, for example, a rhino or a lion named after you. There are also caps, t-shirts, fleeces, limited edition wildlife aerial photos, and even the option to take remote control of the drone! 

Choice of species is on a first come, first served basis.Choice of species is on a first come, first served basis.

T-Shirt Options

 

RISKS AND CHALLENGES

The primary risk is a delayed project time-frame due to the time needed for export and operating licences. Where possible though we have ensured that our rewards can still be enjoyed during the project and not only contingent on specific finish times. The only reward where this is a direct risk is the remote operation of a drone. That is why we have put in such a late fulfilment date.

To address our challenges,we are combining the top minds from Ol Pejeta (with decades of conservation experience) with those from Unmanned Innovation Inc (a US-based company with expertise in developing unmanned aircraft).

The areas that we know will be a challenge will be: 
- maximizing the aircraft flight time and range (especially with the video and RFID reader active) 
- reading the RFID tags from the aircraft (as far from the animal as possible) 
- making the aircraft as simple to operate as possible 
- making the aircraft reliable for daily operations with minimal down time 
- Getting necessary approvals to use the airspace and radio frequencies from Kenyan authorities.

We will work together to address these issues through the development of software (specific to conservation), extensive flight testing, and continual improvement to the solution. Coverage will be extended through a combination of increasing the flight time of individual aircraft and adding additional aircraft to the fleet of UAVs that cover the total conservancy between them. As Ol Pejeta is on the equator with one of the longest days anywhere in the world, the use of solar panels and convective lift will be evaluated to extend flight times.

Sponsors of this project include:

Unmanned Innovation Inc (Newport Beach, CA) - Donating an osFlexPilot autopilot and Ground Station Interface

UASUSA (Boulder, CO) - Donating a TEMPEST aerial vehicle at cost

 

 

Find This Campaign On
$45,934USD
raised by 340 people in 1 month
131% funded
0 time left
$35,000 USD goal
Fixed Funding This campaign has ended and will receive all funds raised.
Campaign Closed
This campaign ended on January 20, 2013
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Select a Perk
  • $25USD
    FANS

    Sign up for our newsletter and be one of the first to hear about the development of the project complete with photographs of work as it progresses.

    26 claimed
    Estimated delivery: January 2013
  • $30USD
    OL PEJETA CAP

    Get you very own Ol Pejeta cap in black with the Ol Pejeta logo and rhino embroidered in green. One of a kind.

    33 out of 750 claimed
    Estimated delivery: January 2013
  • $35USD
    MEME T-Shirt

    See the graphic for the front and back of our t-shirt celebrating this campaign to deploy a wildlife saving drone to Ol Pejeta

    64 out of 100 claimed
    Estimated delivery: January 2013
  • $50USD
    LIMITED EDITIONS

    Five high quality photos from the Ol Pejeta Drone once up and running, signed by the CEO. If we are delayed with drone operations, we will provide photos by Mr. Ian Aitken, a well-known, professional wildlife photographer who works on Ol Pejeta.

    34 out of 750 claimed
    Estimated delivery: June 2013
  • $69USD
    OL PEJETA FLEECE

    There are few things more warm and comfortable than an Ol Pejeta fleece. Top quality in black and embroidered with the Ol Pejeta logo and rhino in green. Make a difference and look good!

    37 out of 750 claimed
    Estimated delivery: January 2013
  • $150USD
    YOUR ANIMAL

    Purchase an RFID tag for a specific species (first come first choose, and almost all rhino are already taken) and when the tag is applied to that animal it will be named after you (or any name that you choose!). Over time, our future apps will even allow you to keep up to date on your animal. Please note that this is an experimental process and so it may take some time before we are able to put your RFID chip in place.

    51 out of 100 claimed
    Estimated delivery: September 2013
  • $350USD
    EARLY ADOPTER

    Get 15 minutes of remote drone operation - get to take a virtual safari of Ol Pejeta Conservancy using the drone. Also you will get sent free access to the beta testing of the Ol Pejeta app when it becomes available later in 2013.

    8 out of 50 claimed
    Estimated delivery: December 2013
  • $1,500USD
    LUXURY SAFARI

    2 Nights, all-inclusive, in one of Ol Pejeta's luxury camps, lodges or houses. Covers two people sharing, sundowners (watch the sunset with a drink from the middle of the conservancy), a night game drive, an early morning Bush Walk with the Ol Pejeta guides, and a personal presentation by the conservancy CEO. This is a chance to see behind the scenes at a working conservancy. Please note that purchasers are responsible for getting to/from the conservancy.

    0 out of 20 claimed
    Estimated delivery: March 2013
  • $7,000USD
    Name the Drone!

    Personally watch over the conservancy with your name professionally painted large on both sides of the drone.

    0 out of 1 claimed
    Estimated delivery: March 2013
  • $10,000USD
    THE ALL-IN VIP PACKAGE

    Visit Ol Pejeta, one of Kenya's premier conservancies and tourist destinations. We will provide an economy class flight (route + carrier specified by us up to $2k max pp), airport transfers in Kenya, food and non-alcoholic drink, luxury accommodation and safari activities will be included such as lion tracking, feeding the endangered Rhino, bush walks and Chimp viewings. Covers 2 people for 7 days sharing. You will be the guest of the CEO, with behind-the-scenes tours, guides and VIP treatment.

    2 out of 5 claimed
    Estimated delivery: June 2013
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