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International Sea Turtle Symposium Report

The 36th Annual Symposium on Sea Turtle Biology and Conservation was held February 29 - March 4 2016 in Lima, Peru at the Campus of Universidad Científica del Sur and Maria Angola Convention Center.

Founder and Executive Director of Kashmir World Foundation (KwF), Princess Aliyah, and Director of Kashmir Robotics (KR), Dr. Ronald Pandolfi, attended the conference in order to become more acquainted with the community as well as introduce the notion of utilizing small unmanned aerial systems (sUAS, drones) in turtle research and conservation. KwF is a non-profit foundation based in Great Falls, Virginia.

Princess Aliyah also spoke at the Indian Ocean/Southeast Asia and Africa Regional Meetings concerning the unique capabilities being developed by KwF for highly autonomous drones seeking guidance on the needs of the community and their perspective on drones. KwF staff also conducted a survey for attendees about their thoughts on drone use in the research, conservation, and protection of sea turtles.

Many participants expressed concern regarding the cost and complexity of drones. In low-income regions, the services of local people can be obtained at very low cost, providing an added benefit of coupling turtle conservation to local incomes. Shifting resources to cover the cost of drones might undermine the support of local communities in protection turtles.

Princess Aliyah explained that KwF is first and foremost an educational organization, empowering local communities with the ability to fabricate, operate, and maintain drones--enabling not just a small income but a pathway out of poverty.

As discussions progressed the audience began to see benefits to integrating KwF aircraft into their research, conservation, and protection work.

Some potential benefits of KwF aircraft included:

1. Timeliness. KwF aircraft can quickly survey broad shore regions, identifying and categorizing turtles and nests in real-time.

2. Access. KwF aircraft can provide safe, quick, and efficient access to remote areas including those with dangerous surface conditions such as rocky shores.

3. Consistency. KwF aircraft can provide a high degree of consistency in turtle monitoring, reducing the potential for systemic bias common with human observation.

4. Education. KwF teaches researchers and conservationists how to fabricate, operate, and maintain the aircraft. Researchers and conservations become collaborators in the improvement of the aircraft and in creating the next generation of aircraft.

5. Savings (cost and time). KwF aircraft are less expensive and more efficient than manned aircraft; freeing up resources to support other aspects of turtle research and conservation.

Kashmir World Foundation (KwF) is a non-profit organization and world leader in the sensors, embedded systems, and artificial intelligence in small unmanned aerial systems (SUAS aka drones) - to achieve a very high degree of autonomy for research, conservation. and counter-poaching missions. Our goal is to collaborate with researchers, students, and scientists from around the world to develop emerging technologies for conservation and counter-poaching of endangered species.

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