Wildlife conservationist Dr Debbie Saunders has been fascinated by wildlife for as long as she can remember.
"I've always been really passionate about wildlife and conservation even from a young age," she said.
"I joined a local wildlife care group when I was 16 because that was the earliest that I could do it."
For over two decades Dr Saunders has worked as an ecologist, focusing on the movement of migratory birds.
Through her experience in this field she, like many others, have faced issues gathering data of the movement and of wildlife without interfering with them.
This is beneficial to both animals and scientists.
It means that conservationists do not need to go to dangerous terrain to gather data.
It also means that there is less risk of animals being harmed or interfered with during data collection.
As a solution to this very common issue, Dr Saunders founded Wildlife Drones, a Canberra based company that collects data on animals using a fleet of drones.
The usual work Wildlife Drones primarily looks at two classes of animals, endangered or threatened species, and invasive species, such as feral cats and pigs.
"[For endangered species] in order to improve the management and the conservation of those species we need to know what they do, so we know what we need to protect or enhance in order for them to survive in the wild."
"As for invasive species, tracking their movements is really important for people who are charged with controlling pests," she said.
"By understanding their movements you can better target your control methods."
Drones can also assist in monitoring the behaviour of animals that were bred in captivity, or who have been released back into the wild after receiving medical treatment.
"A lot is not known about if these animals survive, where do they go, what do they do. and what sorts of impacts do those animals have on the residents that already live in that area," Dr Saunders said.
Wildlife Drones are currently working on a project looking at the differences of behaviour and movement of koalas in burnt and non-burnt environments.
"Usually when you are tagging wild animals there is always some that disappear, there is always some that take off. You end up spending all your time and effort looking for the missing animals," she said.
"When you are on the ground with a handheld receiver , you're tracking one animal at the time, you're taking hours."
"With the drone we can track [the signals of] 40 animals at the same time, we could see all of the koalas all the time."
"It was really great to go along and assist with [Koala surveying] we're also going to go back and do some thermal work to look at population densities there."
The next step for Wildlife Drones is seeking funding to extend their research into other species negatively impacted by bushfires.
To find out more about Wildlife Drones go to www.wildlifedrones.net.
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