ECSU aviation receives NIJ grant to support counter-poaching mission in Kenya

September 23, 2015

By Dr. Linita Shannon

The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) has awarded Elizabeth City State University (ECSU) a $956,250 grant to assist in its mission to provide aviation technology and research to support counter-poaching efforts in Kenya.

ECSU will work with NIJ to assess the highest priority technology needs of the Kenyan Wildlife Services (KWS) Air wing to further their counter-poaching mission. This project includes purchasing, delivering, and conducting an operational evaluation of the aircraft and supporting technologies.

"We are extremely excited about this sponsored effort to conduct research that involves low cost aircraft platforms and sensor technology. It not only extends our aviation science reach internationally; but, assists Kenya in addressing a problem for which the world has become increasingly more sensitive in recent months - poaching," said Dr. Stacey Franklin Jones, chancellor of Elizabeth City State University.

The ECSU project team proposed a multi-layered Aerial Surveillance Model to evaluate different aircraft and supporting technologies. The aircraft and technologies will include Powered Parachutes, Fixed-Wing Aircraft, Rotorcraft Gyroplanes, Light Sport Aircraft, and Aerostats. The team plans to conduct an operational evaluation of acquired aviation technology assets at Tsavo National Park-West, which is one of the eight regions that make up Kenya’s National Parks.

“ECSU’s KWS Aviation Technology Project will directly support and enhance the KWS’s ability to conduct aerial missions to identify poachers and related illegal activity in Kenya’s vast national parks and protected lands,” said Dr. Kuldeep Rawat, Principal Investigator and director of the Aviation Science program at ECSU. “In addition, the project will produce data and evidence-based recommendations for use in rural and tribal U.S. law enforcement agencies with comparable aerial surveillance missions and jurisdictional challenges such as vast, undeveloped terrain.”

This project, in part, fulfills and promotes the objectives of the Presidential Executive Order on Combating Wildlife Trafficking issued July 1, 2013, which calls for enhanced domestic efforts to combat wildlife trafficking and increased assistance to foreign nations in building capacity to combat wildlife trafficking.

Elizabeth City State University has 28 undergraduate degree offerings and four graduate degree programs, flexible study options, and research opportunities. The university was most recently ranked first on Washington Monthly’s list of ‘Best Baccalaureate Colleges.’