New AI camera helps protect Africa’s endangered elephants

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has placed Africa’s elephants on the red list of threatened species.

The population of the animal has dropped to 415,000, meaning an alarming 86% drop over the previous three decades.

“We must urgently put an end to poaching and ensure that sufficient suitable habitat for both forest and savanna elephants is conserved,” said Dr Bruno Oberle, Director-General of the IUCN.

The solution to saving these animals, could lie in modern technology, specifically artificial intelligence.

In collaborating with Dutch tech start-up Hack the Planet, a team of British scientists at Stirling University has developed a new camera that could help protect elephants and other wildlife.

Not only can this technology detect different animal species and humans in real-time, but it has the potential to isolate, identify and discover conflicts between people and wildlife.

The study uses the Iridium satellite network: a case study in Gabon, Central Africa – the smart camera conveys information in real-time to the network, which can then remotely warn rangers, or a village, of conflict on the way. During testing, the AI model achieved an accuracy of 82% in recognising elephants. Rangers would then receive an alert to the elephant’s location within seven minutes on average.

Through the preservation of elephants in the region, the local area is better protected against climate change, due to elephants disrupting the growth of forests of smaller trees, thereby promoting the growth of bigger ones to store more carbon.

Elephants are necessary to slow deforestation – which must be halted by 2030 to help the world limit global warming to 1.5c.

Through the use of artificial intelligence and advanced satellite networks, this goal becomes more possible – and the protection of elephants becomes easier and easier.

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