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Lion KillDrones and robots are revolutionizing wildlife photography. But will the Serengeti authorities allow BeetleCam?

Drone photography in Tanzania’s national parks has been going on for at least five years, but until now only professional shoots could afford the devices.

Now devices like BeetleCam will soon be available for purchase at prices competitive with good SLR cameras. Much less sophisticated camera/drones are also available for much less money.

More and more are showing up on safari, and this has led the Tanzanian authorities to catch up with the trend.

At the end of last year, TANAPA advised the public that in general drones and robot cameras were prohibited in the national parks.

But that didn’t stop the public, and the message did not get out well. Moreover, TANAPA has given many professional filmmakers the right to use drones.

One of the first organizations to use them for photography was NatGeo as referenced in the first link above.

And now NatGeo is finding itself increasingly on the defensive. Recent articles in the magazine are promoting the importance of using drones in conservation.

But the wildlife community is quite divided on the value of using drones.

Last month PBS reported a study in Current Biology indicating that drones were stressing out bears.

NatGeo has become increasingly self-serving over the last decade, but the legitimate argument is rising to the top of most wildlife organization agendas.

As it does the possibility of using drones for photography – even professional photography – diminishes.

I’ve often felt that too many visitors to Africa’s wilderness spend too much time with their photography.

The obsession that has followed many tourists for my entire career ends up reducing the fullness of their memories, from my point of view. If you’ve got to worry about the settings and absolutely correct click moment, you’ll more than likely miss the grand picture of everything happening around that single image.

I chuckle when remembering the old days of the first public video cameras, those huge rectangular boxes that everyone brought on safari:

We were following three cheetah on a hunt in the Mara. I warned everyone that when they sprinted, it was ridiculously short and fast.

But a good number of my clients kept their faces plastered to their video eyepiece, and sure enough, when the hunt and takedown occurred, they were still filming – and seeing – an empty veld!