Park’s top ranger looks to the skies to protect assets

CONSERVATIONIST: Parks Victoria Wangaratta ranger in charge Chris Mercier was awarded a Churchill Fellowship to research more efficient conservation technology. PHOTO: Luke Plummer

THERE’S a lot that goes on that we don’t know about.

And that’s of concern for Parks Victoria Wangaratta ranger in charge Chris Mercier, who has been awarded a 2013 Churchill Fellowship to undertake conservation research overseas.

A ranger for 25 years, Mr Mercier is concerned about flora and fauna poaching around Australia and began looking at new technologies to combat the issue, settling on unmanned aircrafts, or drones.

He said the drones were used in conservation efforts overseas and could be employed in Australia to increase ranger efficiency.

“It came to me last year after I realised there aren’t enough rangers to do the job of protecting national parks, national areas,” he said.

“This concerns me deeply because there’s a lot that goes on that we don’t know about and we’re not able to do anything about it.

“This is a way for rangers who are driving down a track to look beyond the trees, the hills, the track, the canopy and see what’s happening.”

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