The original story was published in the June 2017 issue of the National Geographic. Written by 

Jane Goodall Institute staff launch a drone to map forests in the Republic of the Congo’s Tchimpounga Nature Reserve. ©Jeffrey Kerby

No longer just a military tool, drones are responding to natural disasters, aiding conservation, and delivering life-saving aid.

Recently, more aid and service organizations are harnessing the opportunities that remote-controlled aircraft can bring. In the June 2017 issue of the National Geographic, it highlights how drones are now being utilized for monitoring vultures on the steppes of Mongolia, to delivering medical supplies in Rwanda, and in searching for lost civilizations in Brazil.

It also mentioned the Malawi drone testing corridor established by UNICEF and the Government of Malawi in 2017. On the 25-mile-wide airfield, companies can examine how drones fare on a range of assignments—tracking people fleeing disasters, for instance, or bringing cell phone networks to remote areas. “A company testing drones in a warehouse in San Francisco is not facing the same challenges,” says UNICEF’s Andrew Brown. “What’s produced here will work anywhere in the world.” Elsewhere in Malawi, UNICEF has experimented with sending drones to assess flash flood damage and transport HIV blood tests from rural medical centers to laboratories.

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