Farmers turn to the ‘eye in the sky’ as predators take a toll on sheep numbers

Much like its counterpart, the Haevic1, the Haevic 2 will be equipped with endurance capabilities allowing it to cover vast areas at a time. Mechanical engineer, Werner Robbertse, has been at the core of the plane’s development.
Much like its counterpart, the Haevic1, the Haevic 2 will be equipped with endurance capabilities allowing it to cover vast areas at a time. Mechanical engineer, Werner Robbertse, has been at the core of the plane’s development.

As the statistics continue to rise, a local company has heeded farmers’ calls in a bid to curb the problem surrounding the loss of sheep facing the South African red meat and wool industries.
Established towards the end of last year, Haevic, derived from the German word meaning ‘hawk’, has especially geared their expertise towards the world of agriculture and has since become the farmer’s right hand dabbling in several issues affecting the producer.
Together, the Haevic team which includes Gerhard Coetzee, the managing director, Louis Nel, the head of product development and mechanical engineer Werner Robbertse, are in the process of developing a fixed wing drone which will help to dramatically reduce the loss of income caused through predators.
“Farmers are currently experiencing huge problems with predators, jackals, in particular,” said Coetzee.
“The biggest advantage of this fixed wing drone is that it will have extremely long endurance capabilities, meaning that the plane will be able to fly for up to three hours, and even up to seven if it must.” Covering huge areas of farmland is another perk, with a size of 10 000ha and up being targeted by Coetzee and his team. The plane will also be fitted with a video camera and live feed which will monitor the predators who are most active at dawn and dusk, as well as a thermal camera detecting activity at night. Adding to the appeal is the ease with which farmers can handle the plane, making it easy to fly. This means that it can be launched by hand, cancelling out the need for a runway and can be flown automatically via a preset route as predetermined and eventually uploaded to the plane.
The developers have also taken different kinds of terrain into account.
“If it is a bushy area, there are means of allowing the plane to land via the deployment of a parachute. This can all be done by flicking a switch on the radio controller below,” explained Coetzee, who upon visiting Prieska in the Northern Cape, identified the need for this type of drone.
“Farmers in these areas require huge areas to be covered with one flight,” he added.
Expected to take three months to finalise, sheep and cattle farmers are encouraged to contact Haevic throughout the development process.
“There is currently nothing of this nature in South Africa and we will continue to play an important role in the aerial detection of predators and criminals alike,” said Coetzee.

According to the Predation Management Forum (PMF), the Black-backed Jackal is known to cause considerable livestock losses by not only attacking lambs and sheep, but also cows that are lying down to give birth. Many small-stock farmers live in constant fear of what their futures might hold with figures indicating a loss of at least R1.5 billion per annum. These concerns aren’t limited to South Africa. The Haevic team have also recently developed an eight-arm multi-rotor drone to help combat cattle thieves in Namibia. For more information, contact Gerhard: gerhard@haevic.co.za

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