In an article for the November 2015 issue of the academic journal Ambio, Cambridge geographer Chris Sandbrook suggests that while drones can be very useful for conservation purposes, they also have the potential to alienate human stakeholders and in turn make conservation even more difficult.
Conservation is rarely practiced in blank space: Locals often also lay claim to the land and wildlife being monitored and studied, and they don’t always approve of the conservationists’ methods.
Sandbrook fears that unexplained drone flights could foster an adversarial relationship between locals and conservation groups.
OK – so the locals don’t always care for the out-of-towners telling them how to relate to their lifelong prey or predators. I get it. Beyond that, it’s an interesting take on a complex problem. I suspect that with conservation initiatives – especially those targeting poaching – there is a direct correlation between local support and success. Unfortunately, the author seems more concerned about PR than anything.
By the way, a lot of the footage I have seen from the great African parks makes it very clear that the wildlife being protected doesn’t care much for drones either.