Drones monitor flamboyances of flamingos in this Arab country

drone_image_breeding_flamingos_al_wathba_wetland_reserve“Drones are the future of conservation,” said Dr. Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri when commenting on his team’s plan to use drones to monitor flocks of flamingos at the Al Wathba Wetland Reserve in United Arab Emirates. Dr. Al Dhaheri is executive director of Terrestrial and Marine Biodiversity at the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD.)

He explained that the drones will capture still and moving images of flamingos in their difficult to reach habitats such as the reserve’s lagoons and mud flats. These unmanned aerial vehicles weigh only a little more than a kilogram and have a top speed of more than 50 kilometers per hour. Dr. Al Dhaheri believes they will provide high quality data while minimizing time, costs and close human interactions with the flamboyances of flamingos at the reserve.

A record number of 200 flamingo chicks were counted at the reserve during the summer of 2013. This is the highest number since the Arabian Peninsula’s first successful greater flamingo breeding took place here in 1998 and established the site’s protected status.

Flamingos can be seen at the reserve all year round and a successful robotic monitoring program will give naturalists useful information which can be used to protect the species and its natural environment. This isn’t the first non-military use of drones, lets hope it won’t be the last.

Photo and video from the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi

About Brian Nitz

Brian remembers when a single tear dredged up a nation's guilt. The tear belonged to an Italian-American actor known as Iron-Eyes Cody, the guilt was displaced from centuries of Native American mistreatment and redirected into a new environmental awareness. A 10-year-old Brian wondered, 'What are they... No, what are we doing to this country?'From a family of engineers, farmers and tinkerers Brian's father was a physics teacher. He remembers the day his father drove up to watch a coal power plant's new scrubbers turn smoke from dirty grey-back to steamy white. Surely technology would solve every problem. But then he noticed that breathing was difficult when the wind blew a certain way. While sailing, he often saw a yellow-brown line on the horizon. The stars were beginning to disappear. Gas mileage peaked when Reagan was still president. Solar panels installed in the 1970s were torn from roofs as they were no longer cost-effective to maintain. Racism, public policy and low oil prices transformed suburban life and cities began to sprawl out and absorb farmland. Brian only began to understand the root causes of "doughnut cities" when he moved to Ireland in 2001 and watched history repeat itself.Brian doesn't think environmentalism is 'rocket science', but understanding how to apply it within a society requires wisdom and education. In his travels through Europe, North America, Asia and the Middle East, Brian has learned that great ideas come from everywhere and that sharing mistakes is just as important as sharing ideas.

2 thoughts on “Drones monitor flamboyances of flamingos in this Arab country”

  1. richard says:

    The wetland itself is quite interesting as well, being created artificially from (supposedly) Treated Sewage Effluent overflow from the sewage plant next-door. It seems the flamingoes like the nutrient rich water, as they do in Dubai’s sewage-polluted creek. I can’t help but wonder whether a better plan might be to stop bulldozing the coastline environments and let the Flamingoes stay there in their natural habitats, and then use the TSE for more critical purposes. The sewage site is not exactly beautiful and access is pretty much impossible to get anyway; I guess when they say ‘flamingoes can be seen at the site all year round’ they are speaking hypothetically.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

nineteen − four =