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At a glance

Founder: Chris Muller

Business: Altitude Conservation

Founded: 2018

HQ: Manawatu

Can you tell us a bit about your business?

Altitude Conservation is a wildlife tech company dedicated to solving the world’s tricky conservation problems. Our aim is to improve wildlife research and management, and help save the world’s endangered species.

Our revolutionary Multi-Track Ranger system tracks animals from a drone or other platform to make finding and monitoring wildlife much safer, faster and more efficient.

Over 27,000 species are currently threatened with extinction worldwide. New Zealand is particularly vulnerable due to introduced predators and pest species, and much habitat loss. 53 native bird species are already extinct, and many surviving taonga species are endangered.

Locating and monitoring animals is fundamental to wildlife conservation. However, it can be time-consuming and expensive. Tracking is hindered by large distances, difficult terrain, and thick vegetation. Also, traditional single-frequency receivers can track only one animal at a time. To avoid missing signals they must remain stationary while scanning a frequency list, making them inefficient for aerial tracking.

Our new Multi-Track receiver can track 500 frequencies simultaneously while moving, and with no risk of missing signals. It provides live results and automatically logs positions, improving the accuracy, safety, and efficiency of all methods of tracking, including from the air and ground. Biologists can turn days or weeks of searching into a few minutes’ flying, saving time and money and improving conservation outcomes.

What’s the backstory for your business idea?

Our unique tech was developed and proven in the isolated and rugged sub-Antarctic. Endangered yellow-eyed penguin nests are difficult to locate due to thick vegetation, steep topography and inclement weather. Traditional nest-finding methods were not up to task, threatening to derail important population research.

Aerial tracking using the new Multi-Track system was instrumental to the success of a PhD research project, finding hidden penguin nests in an average of 11 minutes each (compared to over six hours for traditional searching) taking just 3% of the time! These efficiency savings freed up resources for other tasks, and research results provided valuable information for conservation and management decisions, and to update the international IUCN database.

The Multi-Track tech is world-leading and we’re keen to share it with other wildlife biologists to assist conservation research.

What programmes, learning or mentoring have been of assistance so far?

  • Altitude Conservation has received funding and assistance from Callaghan Innovation which has been significant in getting us to where we are today.
  • We also recommend the Innovate and GoInnovate competitions, which include prize money and incubation programmes – a great head-start for new startups!
  • We have also received valuable advice and assistance from our local business association Central Economic Development Agency (CEDA).


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