Air Shepherd Launch Press Release
The Lindbergh Foundation’s Air Shepherd Initiative Announces Launch of Missions in South Africa That Protect Elephants and Rhinos From Poachers
Extensively trained teams cover areas of Kruger Park and KwaZulu-Natal in unprecedented effort to combat poaching
Berkeley Springs, WV—March 7, 2016
The Lindbergh Foundation’s Air Shepherd program, developed to protect elephants and rhinos from poaching by using drones, today announced its official South Africa launch event that took place February 15-18. Golden Globe-winning actress Maura Tierney was on hand to support the initiative that was sponsored by South African Airways.
The Charles A. & Anne Morrow Lindbergh Foundation—along with South African partners Peace Parks Foundation; Ezemvelo KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife and UAV & Drone Solutions—unveiled its Air Shepherd operations to the world with media present along with actress Maura Tierney. Drones were flown during the day for press photos and video with representatives from all partner organizations present to answer questions. Others were also allowed to witness actual field operations at night with rangers nearby.
Air Shepherd drone teams go through months of extensive training and are deployed into areas known for illegal poaching activities. Using intelligence from many sources, infrared-capable drones fly silently at night when poachers operate. Once poachers are spotted on screens in the operation vehicles, rangers are sent to the area to intercept them. The Air Shepherd drones offer more protection to rangers who, while patrolling at night, are exposed to a high level of danger from armed poachers and wild animals.
After extensive testing, it has been shown that when Air Shepherd drones are flying, poaching stops. Air Shepherd teams are a highly effective tool that works in conjunction with other methods and capabilities to combat poaching. Many more teams are needed to address the wide-spread problem and Air Shepherd is therefore actively discussing expansion with officials in five other countries.
“We are thrilled that our drone teams are fully operational,” said John Petersen, chairman of the board of the Lindbergh Foundation. “The poaching of wildlife has hit record highs and we have come to a critical juncture where action must be taken. Fortunately, many other African countries recognize this and have reached out to the Lindbergh Foundation with interest in implementing Air Shepherd pilot programs.”
To find out how to fund Air Shepherd teams and for more information, visit www.airshepherd.org.
About Lindbergh Foundation’s Air Shepherd Initiative
Developed by the Charles A. and Anne Morrow Lindbergh Foundation, the Air Shepherd Initiative is using drones and data analytic capabilities to protect rhinos and elephants in Africa. Using sophisticated three-aircraft operating teams that work with rangers on the ground, drones are flown over high probable poaching areas, allowing rangers to intercept suspects before a poaching incident can take place. A 501 (c)(3) non-profit corporation, the Lindbergh Foundation has dedicated more than 35 years to sustaining the Lindbergh legacy—using technology to help balance the effects of human development on the environment. For more information and to donate, please visit www.lindberghfoundation.org or www.airshepherd.org.
About Peace Parks Foundation
Founded by the late Nelson Mandela, Peace Parks Foundation protects transborder zones in Southern Africa by uniting economic development, the conservation of biodiversity, education and regional peace and stability. PPF was established with a bold aim: to restore harmony between the environment and socio-economic development in South Africa after years of civil war.
About Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife
Ezemvelo is entrusted with the long-term conservation of the region’s rich biodiversity for the people of South Africa. In the 100 years of formal conservation in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, the various departments and statutory organizations that evolved into today`s KZN Wildlife have received many formal awards and words of praise for the quality of their service to conservation and for the high standard of management of the province’s natural resources.