“This video shows how a Phantom VISION can help detect poachers and illegal fishers inside a park in the Amazon, adding a new dimension for park conservation in Brazil ”
Cantão Park is a pristine and remote region in the Araguaia River basin, where the Cerrado (or savannah) of Central Brazil gives way to the Amazon Rainforest. The park consists of 90,000 hectares of seasonally flooded forest, crisscrossed by channels and studded with over 850 oxbow lakes. This exceptionally productive aquatic ecosystem is home to more species of freshwater fish than all of Europe. Such abundance of fish sustains large populations of aquatic fish eaters, including giant otters, jaguars and pink dolphins. Instituto Araguaia’s monitoring and conservation program encompasses the protection of several lakes in the vicinities of its research base against poachers. However, ground surveillance of additional inner lakes is extremely costly and infrequent. Under these circumstances, the use of an Phantom VISION has proven extremely helpful. The regular rounds of the Phantom have ensured that poaching and illegal fishing campsites do not cause undue impact in the in core of the protected area. Not only poaching depletes the fish stocks necessary to replenish the populations, but campsite fires set by fishers often burn huge extensions of this wilderness. When poaching is detected, the park agency is notified. It is committed to quickly respond to any incidents reported by IA researchers and field assistants. Signs put up notifying intruders that they are in a protected area under aerial surveillance has already discouraged many fish poachers from entering the area. This pilot program’s success must now be scaled up and replicated here and in other parks in order to face the evolving challenges ahead.