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Combining drones and satellite tracking as an effective tool for informing policy change in riparian habitats: a proboscis monkey case study

Stark, Danica, Vaughan, Ian Philip ORCID:, Evans, Luke James ORCID:, Kler, Harjinder and Goossens, Benoit ORCID: 2018. Combining drones and satellite tracking as an effective tool for informing policy change in riparian habitats: a proboscis monkey case study. Remote Sensing in Ecology and Conservation 4 (1) , pp. 44-52. 10.1002/rse2.51

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Rapid reaction times to undesirable events are becoming increasingly important for the protection and conservation of habitats and species. This study demonstrates how Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, or drones, and satellite tracking of individual animals can be combined to identify important conservation issues (e.g. deforestation). When quickly disseminated, the information can lead to a rapid change in conservation policy. An adult male proboscis monkey, belonging to a one-male social group, was GPS tracked for 6 months in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo during 2012. Riparian habitats featured heavily (25.4% of total time, 88.6% of all sleeping sites) in the group’s home range. A fixed-wing drone was used in 2015 to map the habitat in high-resolution. These data revealed that 47.54 ha of forest had been cleared shortly before the drone flights. GPS tagging data revealed the importance of this area for a one-male proboscis monkey group. A total of 30.1% of the proboscis monkeys’ home range area had been cleared, as well as 11.4% of sleeping sites. Furthermore, drone images revealed that the felling extended to the river’s edge, disregarding water resources laws requiring riparian reserves of a minimum of 20 m. Following this discovery, a press release including drone imagery combined with GPS data, was published linking habitat destruction to a species that is economically important for the tourism industry in Sabah. The day following dissemination of the data, the Sabah State Government ordered an immediate cessation on further land clearing at sensitive riparian reserves along the river. We propose that this combination of satellite and aerial data provides potential for an effective conservation tool for endangered, iconic and economically important species. This visually compelling data, feasible over large spatial scales, can directly inform policy change in a quick and timely manner.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Biosciences
Uncontrolled Keywords: UAV, monitoring, social media, conservation action, deforestation, biased random bridges
Publisher: Wiley Open Access
ISSN: 2056-3485
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 29 June 2017
Date of Acceptance: 22 May 2017
Last Modified: 02 May 2023 20:41

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