Kenya Wildlife Service Aviation Technology Project

In 2015, the National Institute of Justice partnered with the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Counterterrorism, in a research project involving the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) to trial low-cost aviation technologies for piloted law enforcement aerial surveillance applicable to challenging overseas and domestic law enforcement missions.

KWS uses aerial patrols for counter-poaching and conservation efforts to protect and manage wildlife, and the project will enhance the KWS Air Wing’s aviation capabilities through the acquisition of low-cost aviation technology. Aviation experts and researchers from Elizabeth City State University are to identify and assess cost-effective aviation technology to support the project.

The overall evaluation of this work will inform small, rural and tribal law enforcement agencies in the United States as to the effectiveness of low-cost aviation technologies to enhance and support their missions.

NIJ staff and the team conducted site visits to the KWS Air Wing in Nairobi and field visits to several Kenya national parks receiving aerial support to gather information for a KWS Air Wing needs assessment. Results of the assessment, along with input from the KWS Air Wing, will inform the technology acquisition. Acquired technology will then be evaluated in the field, with a focus on implementation and effectiveness. Results will ultimately be translated for any rural or tribal law enforcement agency seeking to implement low-cost aviation technology.

For more information, contact Maureen McGough, Policy Advisor, Office of the Director, NIJ, at

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