Oft times when we talk about endangered animals in Afrika at risk of extinction or being poached we think mostly of elephants and rhinos. This can be attributed to various factors including increased publicity around the increasing threats that rhinos and elephants face from poachers.

However, there are other endangered animal species in Afrika that also require as much protection and publicity.

Take the addax antelopes in Niger as an example. In 2016, the Sahara Conservation Fund (SCF) released their research report which stated that there were likely only a handful of addax antelopes, specifically only 3, remaining in the wild in Niger. The situation had deteriorated terribly as a few years before the 2016 report, researchers reported that there were likely only 200 addax antelopes remaining in the wild in Niger. This is because of, as it is with rhinos and elephants, heavy poaching of addax antelopes as well as their habitat (Sahara desert)  being under threat from oil installations operated by the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) and associated encroachment that comes with oil exploration and drilling.

As a result, Niger is now turning to using drones as a means of surveillance and protecting the antelopes in its Termit and Tin Toumma nature reserve.

Niger's addax antelopes are facing extinction. Thomas Rabeil/Shara Conservation Fund

Using technology to protect wildlife

The drones will be used to help monitor the not only the endangered addax antelopes, but also the dama gazelle and  cheetahs that also roam the park. Interestingly, a French company called Noe has been awarded the 20 year contract to supply the drones and provide any associated services relating to operating the drones and monitoring the animals.

Why I say this is interesting is because it has been revealed and widly reported that the USA is building a large drone base in Niger. This base was also revealed when we, iAfrikan, earlier in 2018 looked into the Strava heatmap for its fitness devices which are also used by USA's army personnel. It might just be co-incidence that a European company is setting up to use drones to monitor wildlife for a 20 year period in the same country that the USA is building a $240 million drone military base, or is there more than just co-incidence?

The addax antelopes roam both Chad and Niger and it is hoped that with the introduction of the drones, they will be protected from poaching.


Cover image credit: Addax Antelopes in the Sahara. Thomas Rabeil/Shara Conservation Fund