Protecting threatened Over-seas biodiversity

A drone to limit the impact of predators on the Reunion cuckooshrike!

As part of Life BIODIV’OM, in January 2020, agents from SEOR association and Réunion National Park, associate beneficiaries of Life, accompanied by teams from the Drone Tech company tested for the first time the “Deratis’air” protocol whose objective is to control the populations of rats in areas difficult to access for humans.

First test of the “Dératis’air” protocol © SEOR

“Deratis’air” protocol
The Reunion cuckooshrike (Lalage newtoni), locally called Tuit-tuit, is present in the Roche-Ecrite Mountains, in areas accessible to humans but also in areas of difficult access on which it is impossible to deploy the conventional methods of managing the rats that threaten it.

Also, an aerial method has been developed with Drone Tech to deratify areas inaccessible to humans using a drone. Scheduled flight plans for the Tuit-tuit breeding area will be followed by a drone that will drop rat poison on the site to limit the presence of rats and thus the impact on Tuit-tuit nests.

The test
For the test, a flight plan was prepared by SEOR and programmed by Drone Tech to exterminate on a surface of 4 ha with a load of 2 kg per ha. Prior authorizations have been obtained from Réunion National Park and the National Office of Forests.

Due to a technical problem, only one flight on a 180 m line could be made. Over this distance, the defined path was then followed precisely by the drone, and the rat poison was regularly dropped, as expected. Other flights have been made to observe the dropping of the blocks, the speed of the drone to cover a given distance, the flight height, etc.

This test thus made it possible to confirm the feasibility and the reliability of the deratization by drone in natural environment. However, the transition from a prototype phase to a final version will make the drone / width unit more usable operationally.

In 2020, the effective deployment of this system should make it possible to exterminate 135 hectares of area not accessible by drone, to reach a target of 344 hectares in 2023.