Quadcopters are an especially nimble and versatile flavor of drone. They don't have to be noisy or obtrusive, and that's what makes them particularly useful to capture a wide variety of natural subjects. Reportedly, National Geographic is using similar technology on the African Serengeti. The Tokyo Broadcasting System also has contracted drones to get closer to the majestic elephants and zebras of Kenya.
Here's on-board video of one of these mutlirotor drones in action in Norway, courtesy of NRK (Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation). The pilots expertly guide the small drone through the snow-flocked forest to find... a moose. A particularly curious moose, who sniffs at the copter.
Slate writes of the encounter:
A Norwegian Broadcasting Company employee and a couple of friends were playing around with a camera-equipped quadrotor drone when it happened upon the moose minding its own business in a stand of trees. As they brought the copter in for a closer look, the unsuspecting beast slowly turned and bestowed on the machine what we can only assume was a look of pure existential moose confusion. But the best part is the hobbyists' hysterical reaction, which for some reason reminded me of another classic moment of flying-object-with-video-camera joy.
This is probably as good a testament as any to the effectiveness of drone technology to capture images silently and relatively unobtrusively. It's certainly not the first instance of drones being used to monitor wildlife, but few have monitored wildlife from such a close distance.