The Heroes of the Skies, Protecting Wildlife From Above
“The use of aircraft in conservation makes for the perfect synergy of man, machine and mission.”
Aviation in conservation has played a major role over the past 10 years in the successes Namibia has celebrated when it comes to vulture tagging and monitoring of rhinos in remote and desolate locations. From the air, pilots have the advantage of height and field of view to aid them in this all too important task. Donating their time and often the expenses incurred by such missions, these conservationists in the sky go above and beyond to aid in the country’s on-going struggle against poaching and the after effects thereof.
Conrad Brain, pilot, veterinarian and conservationist, has played an integral part in the initiative of utilising planes in the efforts of wildlife counting, protection and maintenance. In a recent article for the Spring issue of Travel News Namibia, he divulges the ins and outs of the undertaking and celebrates is successes.
LOOKING UP, LOOKING DOWN ~By Conrad Brain
“It is a fact of the natural African world that vultures are the first and probably most important animals to detect death below and alert others”
Across all habitats in the vast expanse of Namibia – desert, bush and floodplain – eager and hungry eyes are continuously scanning the sky above. It is a habit of survival and it is as old as the species themselves.
As the predators and scavengers look up, far superior eyes are looking down. The eyes aloft, often as high as ten thousand feet and more, are the first to detect death on the ground below and swirl and spiral down in an instantly recognizable descent configuration. This descent triggers a response from terrestrial species, which follow their feathered partners in finding food for survival.
It is a fact of the natural African world that vultures are the first and probably most important animals to detect death below and alert others. This airborne early warning system is of particular importance in Namibia where vast areas of desert or semi-arid savannah have sparse and scattered populations of wildlife. Top predators and scavengers depend largely on vultures to guide them to food. Unfortunately, the biggest and most destructive predator of them all, man, is all too aware of this and in a perverse notion of greed, is destroying this very system. Man, after killing an elephant or other large herbivore, now attempts to get rid of the system of natural survival and evolution by poisoning the carcasses and thereby killing the vultures so as to “hide” the kill from others that are intent on either finding them or the carcass.
Read the whole Travel News Namibia story here : Looking Up Looking Down