Mapping seabird colonies in West Africa

The West African coast is a very important breeding and feeding area for large numbers of colonial breeding seabirds. The area is very productive and rich in fish. However, the number of breeding islands are few and they are threatened by floods, erosion and human disturbance. It is crucial to monitor the numbers and distributions of these birds to be able to provide adequate protection. It is, however, challenging to obtain accurate counts without disturbing the colonies. Within the context of this ongoing project we have developed UAV-based methodology to count the number of nests in the huge colonies of breeding seabirds in general and Royal terns (Thalasseus maximus) specifically. The project is in collaboration with BirdLife International.
Above Royal tern colony at Ansoukala island in the Saloum delta in Senegal. The entire colony is reconstructed by stitching of individual pictures taken with our UAV.