Russia’s Ministry of Natural Resources has suggested counting wild animals in their natural habitats using aircraft, including quadcopters.
According to the agency’s press service, a similar counting method has been used for large ungulates since the 1960s. Small aircraft were used for that purpose, as it was the only way of monitoring remote areas.
Unmanned equipment can be used today. Drones are more mobile, safe to use, and they do not require take-off sites.
Quadcopters’ continuous shooting mode helps to avoid inaccuracies that were previously there when shooting from aircraft due to pilots’ fatigue and distracted attention and their lack of experience.
Experimental use of drones to count animals has been going on for almost a decade. For example, moose were monitored in the Vologda, Tver, Yaroslavl, Vladimir and other regions using drones, with roe deer counted in the Orenburg region and Siberia.
To count large ungulates, the drone should be equipped with a navigation system and photographic equipment with a resolution of at least 24MP. Thermal imaging and video cameras may also come in handy. Shooting is carried out in winter when there is enough snow and animals are visible on the surface.