In march of last year I began writing this article after reading another interesting article in National Geographic. The article was related to the use of drones. There had been a lot of coverage about the United States use of drones at that time and it all sparked an idea in me. Unfortunately the article got shelved while I started working on other projects. The article I was writing was from a theoretical point of view, but now it appears it is reality. So read this short article and then check out the real deal.
As I was reading an article in the March 2013 National Geographic magazine I had to stop as inspiration for this article struck. The article was about drones, which are a controversial topic. Drones hold a lot of potential, potential for good and ill. I prefer to see the potential for good.
As a wildlife and nature photographer I began to imagine the possibilities which were hinted at in the article.
The possibilities for documenting wildlife, habitats, and behaviors that are currently difficult to observe in the wild are unimaginable. As this technology improves there is so much that could be done.
I first thought of wildlife specials like big cat diary in Animal planet. Forget trying to navigate the savanna in jeeps with break downs and slow moving over rugged terrain. Simply send out a drone and follow the wildlife and zoom in or fly down to get images of the behaviors you are trying to study.
Trying to fund a radio collared animal to continue a study? Send out a drone to home in on the signal and send the coordinates back to you. Perhaps even anesthetize the animal via drone. We can launch attacks via drone a tranquilizer should be comparatively simple.
The article alludes to a spy drone designed to look like a hummingbird. Imagine the possibilities of being able to infiltrate animal habitats completely camouflaged as an element naturally occurring in the environment. Currently this is often done by getting up extremely early and staying in a hide for extremely long hours for days on end waiting to observe behaviors often in inhospitable environments. Imagine being able to accomplish this from the comfort of a lodge. This technology could even reduce any impact caused by our attempts to document animals.
The downside to this technology is it would remove us from the amazing experience of seeing the wildlife in person. I don’t think there is anything in the world that can replace the feeling of experiencing wildlife first hand and I believe that feeling and the associated emotions are critical for protecting and conserving our wildlife and their habitats but I think there are clearly situations where the use of technology would be preferential as a way to get better data as well as protecting wildlife and habitats from increased stresses.
To see my speculations come to life check out Will Burrard-Lucas (http://www.burrard-lucas.com/), a professional wildlife photographer from the UK who uses innovative tools such as BeetleCam and now BeetleCopter to gain unusual perspectives. This seems to be drone photography as I imagined it come to life. I am excited to see where this will go.
You can also check out my photography at krnaturalphoto.photoshelter.com and follow me on social media at KRNaturalPhoto.