Monitoring Endangered Species With Phones And Drones

Monitoring Endangered Species With Phones And Drones

12:52pm May 30, 2017
The jaguar is a near-threatened species and its numbers are declining. Credit: By MarcusObal - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, http://bit.ly/2r55sVk

Here’s the idea: people see animal footprints in the wild more often than they see actual animals.

So scientists at Duke University in Durham, NC, came up with something called ConservationFIT. It reads digital pictures of animal tracks that have been taken with smartphones, cameras, or drones.

It is so accurate, it can not only identify the species, but the sex and age of the animal as well.

The researchers developing the system are using crowdsourcing to collect the data. This method allows for potentially millions of people worldwide to contribute to tracking endangered species.

Once experts get this information, they’ll be able to estimate the animal’s numbers, track their movements, and map out where they are. 

Researchers will start by investigating three endangered species of big cats across the globe: jaguars in the Americas, snow leopards in Asia, and cheetahs in Africa and the Middle East. More species and locations will be added to the ConservationFIT website in the future.

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