Application of an Ultralight Aircraft to Aerial Surveys of Kangaroos on Grazing Properties

A Drifter ultralight aircraft was used as a platform for line-transect aerial surveys of three species of kangaroo in the sheep rangelands south-east of Blackall and north of Longreach in central-western Queensland in winter 1993 and 1994. Favourable comparisons between the results of ultralight surveys and those made from a helicopter flying the same transects and foot surveys along another set of transects, all within a few days of the ultralight survey, confirmed the expectation we had that an ultralight would be a satisfactory and much cheaper vehicle for conducting aerial surveys of kangaroos. The comparisons are even more favourable when data for the three species surveyed are combined, pointing to a problem in species identification and underlining the importance of using only experienced observers for aerial survey of kangaroos, whatever the platform. The use of an ultralight aircraft could have particular value where a comparatively small area, such as an individual sheep or cattle property, is under consideration. In this paper, we present the numerical comparisons, along with an evaluation of the practicability of using this type of aircraft. We also describe a possible future scenario in which an accreditation process could see approved kangaroo surveyors undertaking property assessments by ultralight, under contract to graziers or other interested parties.

Author Grigg, G. C., Pople, A. R. and Beard, L. A.
Year 1997
Secondary title Wildlife Research
Volume 24
Number 3
Pages 359-372
Region QLD