An experimental partnership between drone experts and Khoisan traditional knowledge could be the future of wildlife conservation
For millennia the Khoisan hunter-gatherer people of the Kalahari desert have relied on their knowledge of the environment to survive, learning bush-tracking techniques that are quickly becoming lost to a generation thrust into the rapidly globalising world. Up until now those techniques have been employed for valuable research into medicinal plants, water tracking and a host of other useful resources, but not until recently has their knowledge been used to the ends of conservation.
It got Swiss company Drone Adventures thinking how drone technology and San indigenous knowledge could be used in Namibia to invent a completely new way of counting wildlife. “Equipped with the latest in drone mapping technology, we imagined that we could rival at least a bit with San knowledge, and were utterly ridiculed by the Kuzikus San” Sonja Betschart wrote in a fascinating account of an experiment she was involved in on behalf of Drone Adventures.
“Early one morning, we set up a friendly competition between our technology and the San with the goal to find a newborn black rhino: us with the drones equipped with a thermal camera and the San just with their sandals and knowledge of the area the rhino was suspected to be found.” “Our drones weren’t even up in the air when Gouse and John [two San trackers employed by Kuzikus Wildlife Reserve] already came back and told us the direction and range to the nearest rhino. This technologically humbling experience was a real eye opener, a clear demonstration of how valuable traditional skills are despite new technologies” she says.
Read the full account of their experiment here http://www.iafrikan.com/2015/10/15/what-happens-when-you-mix-ancient-bushmen-knowledge-with-the-latest-in-drone-technology/