Plans to launch a wildlife surveillance drone at Ol Pejeta Conservancy in June suffered a major setback after the government banned it over security concerns.
Ol Pejeta Conservancy’s Chief Commercial Officer Mr Robert Breare and Public relations Manager Ms Elodie Sampere said the plan to launch the pilotless drone dubbed the ‘aerial ranger’ to enhance protection of wildlife has been stopped due to rising insecurity.
“One of the things that has now arisen is that the Kenya Government have put a ban in place on private sector drones for the time being. We will be working closely with the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) to identify the way forward for our conservation drone but in the meantime we ask you to continue your incredible patience as we work to bring this project to fruition” they said in a joint statement.
Ol Pejeta had planned to launch the drone in June after successfully testing a model drone by the US based manufacturer Airware.
Apart from surveillance, the drone would have seen Kenya launch its first virtual tourism village to be beamed real-time to classes, colleges and other forums via the internet.
The drone was released for a two week trial run at Ol Pejeta Wildlife Conservancy ahead of its launch.
Early in the year, Ol Pejeta received approvals to launch the drone from relevant agencies in the government and a two week test-drive conducted successfully for the two kilogram Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV).
“To avoid the need for Ol Pejeta to employ full time pilots and engineers, Airware has developed a simple digital mapping interface, meaning that even a technophobe with no pilot training should be able to control the drone from the ground station.