WWF-RUSSIA ELABORATES A METHOD OF SAIGA’S CENSUS USING UAV
Both conservation managers and scientists need a new method of Saiga census. Previously, this work was carried out by observation from an airplane or a car. Engines’ noise frightens the Saiga, and their movements affected on the correctness of the data. Considering the critically low number of these animals, WWF-Russia stands on necessity to avoid any disturbance of Saiga herds.
"Obtaining up-to-date data on the Saiga population is necessary for planning conservation measures. Therefore, development of methods for accurate counting providing no stress on animals – important work on the recovery of this species", - explains Valery Shmunk, Director of the "Russian Caucasus", WWF-Russia.
In January, WWF-Russia conducted UAV tests in the Stepnoi Sanctuary in sunny weather and at night. The results showed that the animals do not react to the drone at an altitude of 300 m in calm weather. The altitude of 170 m for counting is critical - animals reacted to the drone and ran away.
This method allows for conducting a regular Saiga census on the Caspian lowland territory and track their movement. WWF-Russia plans to conduct a full-scale accounting of Saiga antelope within the current range in June 2019.