Rats are rodents which are usually found picking off remains of a place. In infested places, swamps and sewers are common grounds for these pests. However, these rodents are also a breeding hub of diseases and carry many such pathogens on them. Humankind, since the time civilizations have existed, have faced the issue of rats in their colonies. Recently rats re-invaded Ecuador’s Galápagos National Park and scientists are using drones as a weapon to fend of these pests.

Galápagos islands are historic for being the site of Charles Darwin’s discoveries about evolution. Rats are infamous for causing much damage to this historic place over the years. They have curbed the birth of tortoises and also have laid waste to the local fauna.

These rodents were nearly eradicated from the tiny North Seymour Island in 2007, but they found their way back ten years later. Since then, the challenge has been how to attack the rats without inflicting further damage on a very delicate ecosystem.

The Galápagos islands.

Drones have proven an effective tool to curb the rat population. Drones, colored in blue so as to be less noticeable by birds, dropped poison pellets wherever rats were spotted. “The use of drones is more precise,” says Karl Campbell, the South American director of the nonprofit group Island Conservation. “It also increases feasibility, and reduces eradication costs of invasive rodents in small and midsize islands worldwide” he added.

The previous month, two six-rotor drones flew over North Seymour and a nearby islet with rat poison. Each drone carried 44 pounds (20 kilograms) worth of poison and flew around for 15 minutes. The group of drones was able to cover half the island in poison. However, one of the drones suffered a mechanical breakdown and this enabled workers to spread the remaining poison by hand. The second round of bait distribution will be carried out in the next few weeks. The researchers will then monitor rat activity on the island for a period of two years to see if their mission has been successful or not.

Craig Morley, an invasive species specialist at the Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology in Rotorua, New Zealand, says that the drones have a chance to change how scientists view conservation work. With the press of a button, drones can scale acres of lands, especially in remote locations such as these islands; drones can prove as very effective and cheaper tools of operation. This isn’t the first time a call for a modern technological solution has been made to deal with an invasive species. On the Great Barrier Reef, an initiative comprising Australia’s Queensland University of Technology, Google, and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation has launched an underwater robot whose purpose is to find the problematic starfishes and kill them by injecting them with drugs. A single starfish consumes nearly 65 square feet of living coral reef every single year. The method adopted by such technologies might be fierce and damaging but in some cases, it’s just unavoidable.