Point Cook dad takes on drones to help save African rhinos

A Point Cook father may hold the key to saving endangered African rhinos from extinction at the hands of poachers.

Michael Dove is leading one of three Australian teams taking part in a worldwide conservation competition.

The Wildlife Conservation unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) Challenge (wcUAVc) will have teams designing drones to be deployed over South Africa’s Kruger National Park.

They will be equipped with sensors to detect and locate poachers and which are able to relay details and locations to park rangers.

More than 160 teams around the world have entered the competition and the drone that does best in a series of tests will be crowned the winner and could be used to help fight illegal poachers.

“I entered for two reasons,” Mr Dove said.

“The first is that there’s a serious problem in Kruger National Park with the dwindling number of rhinos.

“Secondly, I want to use it to educate my kids. I want to be a role model for my son.”

Mr Dove and the other three members of his team will travel to South Africa in November to test his drone, which has been named Wakoor, meaning “to watch over” in Afrikaans.

“For us the real challenge is to just be there,” Mr Dove said. “We’re not so concerned if we win. It’s a chance to have a great experience.”

But his team has one thing setting it apart. Mr Dove, a smartphone and tablet application developer, has made an app that will allow Kruger National Park rangers to assess information from the drone while they are still in the field. (His drone’s information will be sent to a computer, phone or tablet.)

More details: www.asgardaerospace.com