Seventy-year-old Asian elephant Shirley has led a remarkable life—and continues to do so, as she contributes her part to help protect wild elephants from the threat of poaching.
The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee recently hosted AfricaASAP, a non-profit organization with a mission to stop the poaching of African elephants and other vulnerable species with near-continuous aerial surveillance of the protected areas where they live. The group flew an airplane 6,500 feet above The Elephant Sanctuary to test how FLIR Systems aerial surveillance equipment can track elephant herds over vast areas, patrol park boundaries, and locate and stop poaching incursions.
During the fly-over, the crew utilized FLIR equipment to track moving vehicles, spot a controlled campfire, and observe Shirley and the other elephants as they traveled through their Sanctuary habitats—simulating real-life scenarios AfricaASAP may encounter in Africa.
Once the project is fully-funded, AfricaASAP will deploy the first airship-based wildlife surveillance system in a national park in Africa. For the first time, park rangers will have a near constant “eye in the sky” above the park they are charged with protecting. Patrolling tens of thousands of square miles every day, the airship will send real-time HD video data to a ground station for monitoring. Based on the information received, Rapid Response Teams can be deployed to protect elephants and other wildlife being hunted by poachers.
The Sanctuary is thrilled to be able to contribute to the important work AfricaASAP is undertaking to protect dwindling wild elephant populations.