One remote pilot used a high-tech drone equipped with a large thermal camera as a way to save animals stuck under rubble or stranded in trees in disaster zones.
Douglas Thron was a cinematographer on a film about animal rescue when he was inspired by the use of an infrared scope to find cats after fires.
Thron said in California’s Tujunga Canyon: “I thought, ‘Imagine if we put this infrared scope on a drone, how many more animals you could actually find’.”
The drone has the advantage of not making loud noises that could distress animals, and can pinpoint wounded or stuck creatures much faster than conventional techniques.
Once an animal is located, Thron or a team can go in on foot to save it.
Thron was hired by the World Wildlife Fund, during Australia’s devastating bushfires in early 2020, in order to find all the animals he could.
“I was able to get little spiny-looking, porcupine-like animals like echidnas, to tiny pygmy possums in a tree that were the size of a mouse,” he said.
Thron’s work in emergency zones is now the subject of a 6-part documentary series called “Doug to the Rescue”.