New Zealand drone company helps in fight against South Africa rhino poachers

More than 7000 African rhinos have been poached over the past 10 years.

But while it's a problem nearly 12,000km away, Kiwi drone company Aeronavics says the solution may be right here in New Zealand.

"They've got ground troops, they've got vehicles, and now they've got this drone that allows them to see from the sky," says founding director Linda Bulk.

The Raglan-based company has developed an anti-poaching 'eye in the sky' drone. 

It's a heavy duty drone, with an 8km range, and a built-in heat sensing camera.

"There's a pilot with a base station and they have a screen, and from that screen they can essentially scout the whole area."

The drone monitors the movements of rhinos and poachers and assists patrol teams, particularly after dark.

"They can't see a thing really at night… obviously because it's dark. But switch on an infrared camera or heat sensing camera, and suddenly you can see."

And just like a car alarm, it's hoped that even the drone's presence will act as a deterrent.

"From people that want to go out and poach, that they don't single out the area because there is obviously a high level of security there."

One prototype is currently being trialled in South Africa, and it's hoped the drones can be rolled out across the country.

Its technology is so useful that Aeronavics' other founding director Rob Brouwer says the company is also exploring ways it can improve farmer safety back home.

"If the drone can go in and do all of that work, then that is going to virtually eliminate all of those deaths and injuries."

When it comes to these drones, the sky's the limit.