Last week, four podencos were trapped in two ponds in Todoque, one of the first towns to be almost completely engulfed by lava from the La Palma volcano. The images taken by the local drone company Ticom Soluciones provoked the clamor of hundreds of palm trees and thousands of other users of social networks, who demand that they not be allowed to die. One of them already has.
During the last week, both Ticom and the Volcanic Life company have been in charge of bringing them food and water. This work is carried out with light drones, weighing less than 250 grams. Time, however, is running out for animals. The solution can go through a third company, this time from Galicia. Aerocamaras claims to have been working on a technological development for a week that allows not only to give them water and food, but also to remove them from the ponds.
“It is an unprecedented maneuver, it has never been done in the world. But it is that, or allow them to die ”, explains Jaime Pereira, CEO of the company. During the last week, Pereira maintains in a telephone conversation with EL PAÍS, the company has adapted for the operation a device that it had previously developed to transport goods to ships that cross the Strait of Gibraltar. This drone measures two and a half meters in diameter, is capable of supporting 24 kilos of weight and is “very stable when carrying loads.”
Of course, it is one thing to carry boxes of food and another to raise living beings. “The capture system is the most complicated,” says the manager. The device would have to carry out a journey of 450 meters one way and as many back. For the key moment, the engineering department has prepared a net that is capable of lowering rigid with wet food bait in between. “The issue is that you have to attract the dog to the center of the network,” he explains. This task would be carried out by means of two monitoring drones, in addition to the rescue one. Once inside, the main drone would rise, leaving the dog trapped in the net. Just one at a time. “If a problem occurs, we have planned a quick release system to put the animal back on the ground.”
Aerocamaras also faces a difficulty that exceeds the technological: what they intend to do is illegal. Current legislation does not allow the transport of people or animals. In addition, the podencos are in an exclusion zone due to the volcanic emergency, so the flight of drones is strongly restricted. Pereira assures that the company he directs has already delivered all the necessary documentation to the Advanced Command Post, installed in the visitor center of the Caldera de Taburiente National Park, which is the body that governs the volcanic crisis on the ground. “We support the emergency services,” says the Aerocamaras spokesman. “We know they have many more pressing problems than this. They have all the information about the emergency and they know what the priorities are ”. Therefore, they will wait for their approval before starting the transfer of the team from Lalín (Pontevedra) to La Palma.
In this sense, Aerocamaras demands the help of logistics and transport companies. “They are about 90 or 100 kilos of material, and that without counting on the pilots.” An Andalusian company has offered to help with the charter of the plane. “The important thing is that they take us there now.”
The animal protection association loyal.org, very active in recent days in the search for a solution to this problem, has urged the authorities through Twitter to remove all legal obstacles and allow the Galician company to carry out the rescue.
Drones have been prominent technological protagonists of this eruption, as they have allowed scientists, emergency services and the media to obtain images of places that the lava has made inaccessible. In the first days of the eruption, one of these devices operated by the amateur pilot Antonio Carrillo also served many residents to check the status of their properties, besieged by volcanic flows. The prohibition of Carrillo from continuing to fly his drone, since it violated current legislation, caused a huge citizen protest with hundreds of messages on social networks.