I had an Encounter with a Hawk while Piloting a Drone

Competition is the essence of life; it’s what keeps every living thing moving. We compete for virtually everything, from water to food, space, affection, time, and so on. Biology/Medical science made us understand we became a baby by fighting off billions of other cells to get to the egg first. Therefore, we’ve started competing even before we were given birth to. We do not only compete with a human for everything as we also compete with animals, plants and sometimes non-living stuff.

It’s more like we’ve to transmit the competitive spirit into every gadget and everything around us. It’s not only human that naturally compete with each other, as animals also do same. Animals compete with animals of the same kind, of different kind and species, and with humans. They also compete for space and other stuff with human and plants sometimes. Most often than not, animals compete with anything that threatens their existence, and that’s the deal, every living organism want to stay alive.

Competition comes in diverse form; some are healthy while some are not. No matter the type of competition it may be, it is carried out by protecting one’s territory. No person or animal would welcome intruders into their area of abode.

However, as the advent of technological advancement affects human life positively while also threatening the existence of humans; it does the same for the animals. I can arguably say it’s more complicated for the animals who probably don’t understand the essence or function of these gadgets and therefore takes them as a new enemy trying to invade their territory.

The presumption is simply “anything I am not familiar with is a threat.” Animals have differently responded to an intrusion of technological products into their territory, like how they responded to lorries/cars, airplanes, guns and so on. It is, however, amusing to see how they respond to one of the newest product of technology; Drones.

The first encounter I had with a wild animal while piloting a drone war against the hawk. On a particular day, I was on a new site of adventure, and we had our camp situated somehow far from residential areas. I had gone there to look out for the evergreen flower trees, the wonderfully accompanied butterflies, the lovely land animals and most especially the nature endowed waterfalls.

The place was a beauty to behold, and I tried my adventurous best to move around the park as much as possible. I left others behind, around our base camp and moved far beyond eye reach with a mountain bicycle. The sensation of what I was seeing made me forget about any documentary or at least to record my experience until I got to another part of the park with higher waterfalls. I enjoyed the view and breeze for some moment before I decided to climb up and see what the plain side of the mountain hosting the waterfalls looks like; just as we did with the other waterfall closer to our camp base.

Climbing this particular one proved more difficult as it gets harder the more I tried to bypass the vertical part of the slope and the night quickly fell on me. I agreed the greatest mistake I made that day was not going with my camera-equipped drone, so I left the site back to the camp base to continue the following day.

Well, after narrating the wonderful view I sighted the other day, my colleagues agreed to go the same way the following day, but the place became noisier and nature filled than the earlier day I went alone. It seemed as though the time we went, there was a perfect time for the birds to fish because they were all up there, hovering over the lower and the upper part of the waterfall, probably looking for fish or any other reptiles or pick-able animals around the area.

After also enjoying the natural gift of a waterfall for some moments, we decided to see the upper part of the fall but do not know the best route to follow. Owning to my experience the day before, we, therefore, resolved to use drones to check for the best route up there.

We launched three camera drones for the mission, but the drones quickly attracted unwanted enemies from the birds. Whether they were fighting to retain their airspace above and around the river and waterfall, or the heavy sound of the drones threatened them, we could not say, but all we saw was birds deliberately flying towards the drones even though some of them were flying away from them.

Part of our training is to make sure we try our best not to disturb the default order of nature and animals whenever we go for adventures or research works in a place like that, and therefore the drones were piloted in such a way not move too close to the hovering birds even though we were looking for the best possible route up there.

After some productive search, we were able to locate a reasonable footpath to the top but not without losing one of the drones to bird collision. The affected drone was particularly targeted by two birds who were following it wherever it goes to the extent the drone was already drifting out of coverage, and therefore the pilot was left with no other option than to lower its elevation and bring it back to where we were. As he was trying achieving this though, another bird came from the rear side and smashed the drone with its full weight. Of course, the drone lost its balance and eventually crashed down. The video review showed that the birds followed the drone for around twenty minutes before it eventually crashed.

Using drone or any other technological (especially unmanned) gadget to intrude into the natural habitat of wild animals is well frowned at by many park authorities and even some countries. You’ll do well to read the laws and know how to use your drones either for documentary or recreational purpose in parks, reserved areas or anywhere you are expected to find wild animals.

There are records of drone clashes with other animals like the lion and the likes who might have likely taken it for a bird (or food), which means drones used around most wild animals will draw attention from them.

Don’t forget the attention will either yield a positive result or otherwise and I’m sure nobody will deliberately wish for the later. Apart from disturbing the natural peace of the animals, piloting the drones wisely around the animals will also protect the drones, which are not cheaply come by.

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