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The drones at the Kronotsky nature reserve weigh about 2 kilograms each and have a range of 60 kilometers. They’ll be equipped with inexpensive cameras capable of snapping a shot every two seconds.

Unmanned aircraft systems (UASs) will be tested at the Kronotsky nature reserve on the Kamchatka Peninsula of Russia’s Pacific coast this summer to help track wildlife and crack down on poachers.

According to Alexandra Filatkina, deputy director for development at the Kronotsky nature reserve, UASs are silent and can fly at a very low altitude to produce high-resolution imagery and detect poachers, their boats and vehicles. Filatkina says the drones will be “road tested” at Kronotsky to see whether they can be used in other wildlife sanctuaries across Russia.

The plan’s authors also hope the drones will reduce the cost of aerial monitoring, which is necessary to track certain animal populations—brown bears, reindeer, etc. Last year, the South Kamchatka Federal Reserve, which answers to Kronotsky, spent about 1 million rubles (more than $32,000) to monitor brown bears.

Image courtesy of Kronotsky nature reserve/Petr Shpilenok.

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