The wild horses are going to be watched by flying drone

2015 - 06 - 26
The wild horses are going to be watched by flying drone

The latest techniques are going to be used in the following days to continue a scientific programme of the wild horses return project coordinated by European Wildlife organisation. On Monday and Tuesday experts are going to start monitoring a rare steppe locality at Milovice, in central Bohemian in the Czech Republic, with the help of a remote-controlled unmanned plane – a so called drone.

Non-commercial flights for scientific purposes should bring a lot of useful information to the experts. “The drone will take pictures of the present reserve where the horses are grazing, and also of an area where pasture will extend in subsequent years. The current steppe condition will be mapped like that from air. The required information will be completed by ground research data.’’ explained Miloslav Jirku of the Biology Centre of the Czech Academy of Sciences who coordinates scientific research in the locality.

“Based on the aerial pictures which will be joined in one unit, there will come into existence a very detailed photomap in high definition. We can simply say we will have the vegetation mapped up to the last bush.’’ adds Miloslav Jirku. The aerial photography will be repeated once or twice a year over a long period. The steppe development will be thus caught over several years.

Besides locality mapping, the drone is intended to also be used also for taking pictures of and filming the wild horses. Unique shots catching the herd from a bird´s eye view will be thus created. The shots will be used, besides other things, by film-makers making a documentary film about wild horses for Czech Television at the moment.

Drones are, for example, tested by Amazon delivery service, which would like to deliver packages to their customers this way in the future. In the Caribbean, scientists use drones to monitor coral reefs. BioCarbon Engineering company is working on a project using drones to map deforested areas and their reforestation.

In Milovice the locality monitoring with the help of an unmanned drone is a more comfortable part of research for the scientists. The others are much more demanding for them. They walk tens of kilometres every year while monitoring the botanical and zoological variety of the locality. During that the research they record the occurrence of butterflies, beetles, birds, flowering plants and other organisms. In Traviny locality the scientists have marked out three tracks of two kilometres for every one of them, in Pod Benáteckým vrchem locality there are four tracks of fourteen hundred metres for each one.

First look already indicates that the wild horses have managed to transform the locality beyond recognition after just a few months of their stay. “In the acclimatization enclosure which was originally totally overgrown with aggressive Wood-small Reed, we already noticed five groups of rare Star Gentian. It is one of the rarest plant species here, and what is more an endangered butterfly species, Mountain Alcon Blue, is entirely dependent on this plant.’’ adds Miloslav Jirku.

The extent of the scientific research within the project is unique, even when compared internationally. “In many countries of western Europe big hoofed animals have been used for cheap and careful landscape care for at least three decades. With the exception of Germany there are, however, no scientific data available from most of the places. We are glad our project is based on such close cooperation with leading experts from Czech universities and the Czech Academy of Sciences. Thanks to this our project has ranked among the absolute leading edge within Europe since the very beginning.’’ Dalibor Dostal, director of European Wildlife organisation, said in appreciation of the cooperation with experts.

It cooperates in the project with scientists from the Biology centre of the Czech Academy of Sciences, South Bohemian University, Charles University, the Institute of Vertebrate Biology of the Czech Academy of Sciences, Masaryk University and other institutions.

The wild horses arrived in Milovice on 28th January. They come from Exmoor in England where they have been living in wild nature since everlasting. The first written mention about them goes back to the year 1086 and is one the oldest records about wild living horses in Europe. Recent genetic research has found that only horses from Exmoor exactly correspond in their appearance and colouration with the original wild horses of Europe.

Photo: Wikimedia / Don McCullough

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