According to the press office of the Land of the Leopard a joint patrol was carried out by the protected area’s inspectors and officers of the Primorsky Federal Service for Drug Control (PFSDC). The Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) recently purchased by Phoenix Fund with the financial support from IFAW assisted the specialists from the air during the patrol in the national park.
A large-scale joint patrol of drug control officers took place under the agreement on cooperation concluded between the Land of the Leopard National Park (LLNP) and the PFSDC in 2014. This operation was not the first of its kind; such patrols have been carried out in the protected area (PA) before. However, for the first time a drone was involved in work in addition to cars and ATVs. It allowed exploring the most hardly accessible areas of the national park. Such areas are the most common sites for illegal planting of Manchurian cannabis.
Video of the patrol was provided by the Land of the Leopard National Park and can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hu_C1tNKAi0&feature=youtu.be
“It was the first time we held a patrol using the new equipment – says Eugene Stoma, deputy director of the Protection at the LLNP. – In addition to searching for cannabis plantations the inspectors were revealing violations of protected regime. It is not a secret that the people involved in cannabis cultivation deliberately set fire to dry grass in fire-hazardous period. Their actions bring harm to both people and nature. Together with drug control, we focus on the total eradication of this kind of crimes within the national park.”
The joint patrol was conducted for two days and brought some results. For security reasons the revealed information has not been disclosed. It is planned that the cooperation with the Primorsky Federal Service for Drug Control will be continued at the Land of the Leopard in the framework of the agreement on cooperation and coordination.
“We are very pleased to see the first self-sustained steps of national park’s inspectors at their work with drone, – says Sergei Bereznuk, director of the Phoenix Fund. – When we initiated a project introducing UAVs for nature conservation and held trainings, we aimed to provide PAs staff with the most advanced technology for protection and monitoring of the reserved areas. We hope that soon we’ll have the first apprehended poachers detained with the help of the aircraft.”
The Phoenix Fund became a pioneer in the use of the unmanned aerial vehicles for conservation purposes in the south of the Russian Far East. With the support of our partners – ALTA, IFAW, Whitley Fund for Nature, Alertis – since 2013 Phoenix has been organizing trainings and purchasing drones for the protected areas. We are delighted that our initiative on the use of small UAVs was supported by the WWF and the ANO “Tiger” in 2015, when they held training for one inspector in the Sikhote-Alin Biosphere Reserve.