Kenyan national flag carrier Kenya Airways’ subsidiary Fahari Aviation participated in the Tsavo Ecosystem Wildlife Census, which was coordinated by the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and the recently created Wildlife Research and Training Institute, with financial support from the Kenyan government. Fahari Aviation specialises in the operation of uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones.
The Tsavo Ecosystem Wildlife Census was part of the country’s first, and continuing, national wildlife census. Fahari’s involvement was a pilot project to establish the value of UAVs in supporting the conservation of wildlife and indeed of entire ecosystems.
“The use of drones and unmanned aircraft has proven feasible in many different fields of application,” pointed out Kenya Airways CEO Allan Kilavuka. “The omni-purpose nature of these vehicles has provided opportunities to create impact on various uses. Through Fahari Aviation, we aim to furnish new dimensions to the use of aerial counting and wildlife monitoring methods in a cost effective and efficient manner.”
“In order to facilitate sustainable conservation and management of our wildlife, monitoring populations is a major prerequisite,” noted KWS director-general Brigadier (retired) John Waweru. “This census will therefore provide information on the current status and distribution of wildlife. Further, it will aid in identifying threats to the vast but threatened wildlife populations and support [the] decision making process in conservation and [the] tourism sector.”
The countrywide census will cover endangered primates (the Tana Mangabey and Tana red colobus), fresh water and marine mammals and important and threatened bird species (including kori bustards and ostriches). It will also cover terrestrial mammals, namely buffalo, hippopotamus, rhinoceros, elephant, giraffe, both greater and lesser kudu, eland, Grant’s gazelle, Thomson’s gazelle, bongo, gerenuk, hirola, impala, kongoni, sitatunga, warthogs and both the common and Grey’s zebra.
The census will encompass all 47 of Kenya’s counties. “Through Fahari Aviation, we look forward to working with Kenya Airways and furthering the use of drones and unmanned aircraft in wildlife conservation efforts,” affirmed Waweru.