#145 Show Notes | Revolutionizing Wildlife Tracking Technology with Debbie Saunders, PhD

What is Episode 145 all about?

The tech industry is innovating at a crazy rate. What seemed like science fiction 20 years ago, now in 2023, we’re debating the ethics of AI, watching Elon Musk shoot Teslas into space, and wondering if someone we know will move to Mars in our lifetime. To me, however, a lot of this feels like a distraction from the true perils our planet is experiencing. We’re losing habitat and biodiversity faster than ever before, and if we are to change this narrative, then we need to embrace powerful technological tools. 

While new tech is making conservation easier to study and more effective, understanding how to design and launch a product that is useful for our field is not a walk in the park. So, how does one go about advancing conservation tech, such as radio-telemetry tracking? Nonprofits, governments, and researchers all over the globe track wildlife to understand their movement patterns to figure out how to best protect endangered species. Wildlife tracking, though, is notoriously time-consuming and cumbersome with the industry’s standard tools. How can we make wildlife radio tracking, and thereby conservation action, more effective?

To teach us about advanced radio-telemetry tracking technology, in this episode, I’m sitting down with Debbie Saunders, PhD, founder of Wildlife Drones in Australia. As a child, loved being in the outdoors and volunteered for several wildlife rescue groups growing up. Her natural admiration for wildlife blossomed into a wildlife ecology career. During a field study on the now critically endangered swift parrot, a difficult bird to track and study, Debbie had the brilliant idea of using drones to reach higher vantage points for picking up wildlife tracking signals. This idea launched her journey into conservation tech, which eventually evolved into Wildlife Drones. Now, Wildlife Drones is the creator of the ‘Most Advanced Drone Radio-telemetry System’ in the world and is now being used on multiple continents across the globe.

Debbie and I have a lovely time chatting about her story and how she found herself studying swift parrots, how she switched from studying wildlife ecology to building a tech startup, how Wildlife Drones’ radio-telemetry system works, her favorite stories from the field, and how the company is innovating for the future.

If you’re in the US, Debbie and her team will be in Texas and Kentucky this October and November to give tech demonstrations of their drones. I hope to also be there in Kentucky, so you’ll get to meet both of us!

Alright, everyone. Please enjoy this science techy conversation with Debbie.

Listen to this episode.

 #145 |  Revolutionizing Wildlife Tracking Technology with Debbie Saunders, PhD

Watch this episode on YouTube.

Debbie in the Field

Debbie’s Websites

Wildlife Drones

Tech Demonstrations in the United States Fall 2023

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