Don't miss




A controversial pastor in Haiti, pollution in Casablanca, and more

Read more


Photojournalist Reza: 'Children are now the best photographers'

Read more


Instagram founders quit photo app

Read more


Tanzania investigates ferry disaster which killed at least 227

Read more


Presidential parody: The unofficial Elysée shop

Read more


Iran under pressure: Tehran vows retaliation after Ahvaz attack

Read more


Germany: Where providing information on abortion remains a crime

Read more


Music show: ‘Big Brothers’ Winston McAnuff & Fixi

Read more


'Back from golfing dead': Tiger Woods overcomes pain and scandal to win first tour in 5 years

Read more

Drones fly to rescue of Amazon wildlife

© AFP | An Amazon pink river dolphin (Inia geoffrensis) is seen at the Amana Sustainable Development Reserve in Amazonas state, Brazil -- experts are using drones to monitor the species


A hoarse sound abruptly wakes visitors staying at a floating house that serves as a base for environmentalists on the Jaraua river in the Amazon rainforest.

During flood season, the Mamiraua Sustainable Development Reserve -- located 500 kilometers (310 miles) from the Amazonas state capital Manaus -- fills with water.

For researchers from the Mamiraua Institute and WWF-Brazil, that means their nearest neighbor is a caiman they call Dominique. It has decided to squat for the day at the end of their house.

But the surprising noise was something else.

"Don't worry! That's just the river dolphins breathing. It's scary in the middle of the night, right?" biologist Andre Coelho says.

The next day, scientists got into two boats, slowly navigating the endless spread of water-filled forest.

In this primeval landscape, the researchers used a drone to help them watch the Amazon's pink river dolphins, whose scientific name is Inia geoffrensis.

The voyage in late June, which AFP was invited to follow, was the last in the series of a project called EcoDrones, which monitors populations of the pink river dolphin and another type, the tucuxi, or Sotalia fluviatilis.

"We need to understand their behavior and habits so that we can propose policies for their preservation," said Marcelo Oliveira, from the World Wildlife Fund-Brazil.

Drones "are a tool that will reduce costs and speed up the investigations," said oceanographer Miriam Marmontel, from the Mamiraua Institute.

The expedition is using new thermal imaging cameras to allow work to continue at night.

"We can observe the animals at times when before it was impossible," Oliveira said.

Some of the research will be sent to the University of Liverpool in association with WWF-Brazil, with hopes of developing an algorithm that will allow scientists to identify every one of the dolphins during their observations.

"There are many different Amazons in what we call the Amazon jungle," said Marmontel.

"Our monitoring means we can understand how to preserve animals in each region -- what are the dangers and how they can be faced."

© 2018 AFP