New paper on orangutan detection with a thermal camera under a drone is out!

We just published a paper in the Journal of Unmanned Vehicle Systems on the successful detection of orangutans with a thermal imaging camera under a drone.


We investigated the efficacy of a drone equipped with a thermal camera as a potential survey tool to detect wild Bornean orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus) and other tropical primates. Using the thermal camera we successfully detected 41 orangutans and a troop of proboscis monkeys, all of which were confirmed by ground observers. We discuss the potential advantages and limitations of thermal-equipped drones as a tool to complement other methods, and the potential of this technology for use as a future survey tool.

Small room for compromise between oil palm cultivation and primate conservation in Africa

We just published a new paper in PNAS on the potential expansion of oil palm in Africa and its potential impacts on primates. See the abstract here:


Despite growing awareness about its detrimental effects on tropical biodiversity, land conversion to oil palm continues to increase rapidly as a consequence of global demand, profitability, and the income opportunity it offers to producing countries. Although most industrial oil palm plantations are located in Southeast Asia, it is argued that much of their future expansion will occur in Africa. We assessed how this could affect the continent’s primates by combining information on oil palm suitability and current land use with primate distribution, diversity, and vulnerability. We also quantified the potential impact of large-scale oil palm cultivation on primates in terms of range loss under different expansion scenarios taking into account future demand, oil palm suitability, human accessibility, carbon stock, and primate vulnerability. We found a high overlap between areas of high oil palm suitability and areas of high conservation priority for primates. Overall, we found only a few small areas where oil palm could be cultivated in Africa with a low impact on primates (3.3 Mha, including all areas suitable for oil palm). These results warn that, consistent with the dramatic effects of palm oil cultivation on biodiversity in Southeast Asia, reconciling a large-scale development of oil palm in Africa with primate conservation will be a great challenge.



Locating emergent trees in a tropical rainforest using data from an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)

We have a new paper out on the usage of drones to locate emergent trees. Please see the link here. The highlights are below:

Emergent trees are used as ‘sleeping’ trees by endangered primates such as gibbons.
A method is developed to detect emergent trees in a rainforest using data from UAVs.
Relative heights are used instead of canopy heights to identify emergent trees.

Emergent figure