How do I choose the right drone for my conservation goals?

Our fifth WILDLABS Tech Tutors Season 2 epsiode featured Shashank Srinivasan, who will tackled the question: How do I choose the right drone for my conservation goals?

Watch it on the WILDLABS Youtube Channel!

You can also ask our Shashank questions, discuss this topic, and collaborate with other participants in our episode forum thread, and see our collaborative notes doc here.

Date published: 2021/01/04

About the series

Introducing the second season of WILDLABS Tech Tutors, our series that focuses on answering the "how do I do that?" questions of conservation tech. Launched with the support of Microsoft AI for Earth, this series will give you the bite-sized, easy-to-understand building blocks you'll need to broaden your conservation technology horizons, enhance your research, or launch a new collaborative project.

Taking place every Thursday, each Tech Tutor will present a 30 minute tutorial guiding you through an aspect of conservation tech, followed by a 30 minute live Q&A session with the audience.

Tech Tutors is made for conservation tech beginners of all knowledge levels (and yes, even experts can still be beginners when it comes to tackling a new aspect of conservation tech or starting a new project!), and because we know that there's always more to learn in the #tech4wildlife world, that's why we're so excited to bring you a brand-new season of WILDLABS Tech Tutors! With presentations that will take you even deeper into those tricky "how do I do that?" questions of conservation tech, we hope you'll discover new perspectives and ideas to bring to your own #tech4wildlife work.

For participants, the outcome will be an increased sense of confidence in their technological skills, the ability to actively build off of the skills discussed in these tutorials, and an opportunity to learn and collaborate with other members of the WILDLABS community. Read about the first season's community highlights here.

Our goal is to customize these tutorials to fit the needs of the community and address your needs, so let us know what you want to see in this season and beyond.

Can't make it? You can find every tutorial after it airs on our Youtube channel.

Meet your Tutor: Shashank Srinivasan

Shashank is a conservation geographer and drone pilot. He is the founder and director at Technology for Wildlife. TfW works with clients and partners to amplify their conservation impact through the appropriate use of modern technology. Shashank has an MRes in Ecology and Environmental Management from the University of York and an MPhil in Conservation Leadership from the University of Cambridge and is a National Geographic Explorer, HSBC-Chevening Scholar and a Kinship Conservation Fellow.

We asked Shashank...

What will I learn in this episode?

Drones can be extremely useful in conservation by making it possible to conduct existing tasks more effectively and to also conduct new tasks that would have been otherwise impossible. However, understanding when drone-based methodologies should (or should not) be implemented is crucial to effective conservation interventions, as is picking the right drone. In this episode. participants will learn how and when drones should be used, and if they are, which things to keep in mind when deciding whether to buy a drone off-the-shelf, have a customised drone built or to, in the most extreme cases, build your own drone.

How can I learn more about this subject?

You can find out more at techforwildlife.com/blog and conservationdrones.org.

If I want to take the next step using this technology, where should I start?

Talk to people in the conservation space who've used drones for good, and get their opinions on your intended drone operations. Look up the Flying Labs networks and the Humanitarian UAV guidelines for an insight into ethical implications of drone use, and have a clear understanding of how a drone would make your work more effective and/or efficient.

What advice do you have for a complete beginner in this subject?

In my experience, procuring a drone has been straightforward, but getting the official permits required to actually use it has been extremely complicated. While this would differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, I would emphasise that the hidden costs of actually using a drone may be multiples of the capital invested in actually purchasing it outright, and this is for drones purchased off-the-shelf.

If you're looking to build your own drone, or have a drone custom-built for you, it's possible the costs could be even higher. Keeping this in mind, if you're convinced that a drone will make your conservation work more effective, I would recommend that you estimate the total costs of using one before you actually take the plunge.

Learn more about our upcoming Tech Tutorials

Visit the series page on WILDLABS to find the full list of WILDLABS Tech Tutors.

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Have a question for Shashank? Join the discussion!