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Vol. 6 Tipping the Scales from the Air

Working to protect Norfolk Island’s endangered endemic species with industrial-use unmanned helicopters

Beautiful Norfolk Island on the Pacific Ocean is home to around 2,200 residents and is a roughly three-hour flight from Sydney. Several endemic species of plants and birds also call the island home, but are under threat of going extinct. Fueled by their connection to and respect for the island’s natural environment, the people of Norfolk are working to protect its native inhabitants from an invasive and destructive species of ant.

It was around 2005 that Argentine ant colonies on Norfolk Island began to propagate and develop into a serious problem. The invasive ants began inflicting damage across the island, from preying on native species to staging mass invasions of homes. The troubled residents strapped tanks of ant killer to their backs and began working to exterminate the pests, but the effectiveness of their efforts was unfortunately limited.

What became a gamechanger for addressing the island’s predicament was Yamaha Motor’s industrial-use unmanned helicopters, which can fly at low altitudes and distribute pest control bait across a wide area to fight off the invasive ants while avoiding residential districts. Now armed with this tool from the air, the battle between the Argentine ants and the island’s nature-loving residents continues, as they strive to prevent the ants from invading a national park home to many endangered species.

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