Southampton students have been building drones in the fight against climate change and poaching.

The drones can monitor climate change in difficult-to-reach and hostile environments that are dangerous for humans.

Developed by students and staff at Southampton University the flying machines are reportedly more efficient and have longer battery life.

While longer-range drones do already exist, they are often too expensive to fly on a larger, more widespread scale.

These new drones were developed as part of the Turner-Kirk UAV Research Support Programme.

It was funded with a £15,000 donation from former student and technology entrepreneur Dr Ewan Kirk.

The programme will fund three groups of fourth-year students within the engineering department at Southampton University.

Their research will focus on ways to improve the efficiency and extend the battery life of drones.

They hope to develop new ways to adapt existing drones on a cheaper basis.

The team will make a trip to Guatemala next year to monitor a live volcano using the new technology.

Dr Ewan Kirk said: "In the future, it is totally possible that remote and hostile environments worldwide will be constantly monitored by drones, feeding back live data to environmental agencies, so we can track our global ecosystem in real-time.

"The application of technology is vital to mitigating environmental changes and the conservation of endangered animals, and universities, which are hotbeds for ideas and innovation, have an important role to play in developing the technology needed."

Senior Enterprise Fellow in the engineering department at the University of Southampton, Dr Mario Ferraro said: "I would like to thank Ewan and Patricia for this generous gift which will enable us to continue this important and timely stream of research. As a team, one of our main priorities is to develop technology that can be used by environment agencies worldwide to make a real difference in minimising the impact of climate change and natural disasters.

"Until now, there's simply not been enough research in this area, and as we all feel the effects of climate change, from widespread flooding to forest fires, the importance of this type of technology matters more than ever."