Indigenous tribal rights groups and WWF International are beginning to train Amazonian tribes in the use of drones so that they can help protect wildlife and identify, compile evidence and report on illegal logging activities.
WWF joined Kaninde Ethno-Environmental Defense Association, a civil society made up of biologists, foresters, cartographers, anthropologists, health and information technology specialists and journalists to organize a drone training course for five indigenous tribes living in the western Brazilian state of Rondonia.
Technology for nature
With the help of drones, the tribes managed to create high-resolution images, video and GPS coordinates of logging sites, the Brazilian walnut tree – a valuable source of income – and the main habitat for vulnerable species such as the harpie eagle, the largest in the accipitridae family, and a sacred bird for some tribes.
Illegal logging is one of the major causes of the wildfire eruption experienced in the Amazon over the past 24 months, as ranchers burn forests to make way for pastures.
The technology is surprisingly well accepted and understood by indigenous groups and gives them a greater ability to use their ancestral knowledge of the forest to protect it, said Felipe Spina Avino, senior conservation analyst for WWF-Brazil, who helped organizing and running the drone training program.
“They can compile a case with a lot of evidence that they can send to the authorities who can then put much more pressure and deploy much more resources to act on the illegal activities that take place,” he told CNN.
In the first mission in which the team used the technology, they discovered an area of 1.4 acres of smooth land, above which they recorded observations of a helicopter scattering grass seeds, suggesting that anyone clearing the forest planned to use it for grazing cattle. – an illegal activity.
Covid-19 and the perceived susceptibility of indigenous groups to the virus have prevented Brazilian government officials from stationing too many authorities to stop loggers and farmers from lighting fires in the Amazon.
As a result, logging activities this year have been more severe, according to an indigenous rights group Survival International.
The drone project, which can cost just $ 2,000 for equipment and training per group, helps balance the situation and stop illegal activities in the Amazon rainforest.