Can artificial intelligence help protect endangered wildlife?

Published December 26, 2019   |   

Over the past few years, climate change has become a major issue for the entire world. The entire human and animal population is suffering from major climate change issues. And there is no way we can tackle the adverse effects of human exploitations.

A number of animal species have been added to the endangered species list. And hundreds of species are nowhere to be found. Few popular species such as the dodo, baiji white dolphin, passenger pigeon have long been extinct. And many more are disappearing.

Recently, the last Sumatran rhinoceros in Malayasia passed away. And now, only a few of them exist around the world. With a count of less than 80 on the entire planet, the species is highly endangered. This shows us that the conditions for endangered animals have worsened.

A lot of NGOs are working towards safeguarding the endangered species that are being killed for their skins, tusk, and whatnot. The majority of animal species are facing the consequences of climatic change and pollution.

The advanced technology also contributes to saving the endangered species of animals in many ways. Artificial intelligence is said to be the most effective method to fight the poachers and hunters who are constantly trying to use the animal species for their business.

There are very few forest rangers in the world, the majority of them do not even get proper facilities to survive in the region they are protecting whereas the mastermind behind the 19 billion US dollar illegal trade of animals is full-fledged with guns and facilities to support their crimes.

How Ai can protect the world’s most endangered animal

Artificial intelligence has been around us for a very long time. And with time, a lot of new changes can be seen in AI technology. Today, it’s automating work processes in almost every sector. It’s even contributing to the protection of endangered animal species.

Here are a few artificial intelligence software that help protect endangered wildlife.

  1. SMART

Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool, SMART is an AI that can fetch information regarding the location of the animals, the poachers and also assists the Patrol management. The SMART artificial intelligence tool is free of cost. It’s funded by 9 international organizations that are working for the welfare of endangered species.

There are more than 600 sites across the planet are using SMART artificial intelligence and the government of several countries has made it mandatory to use the tool in the wildlife sanctuaries.

Benefits of using SMART:

  • Monitoring the efforts of forest rangers can become easy
  • It can assist the ranger by showing the exact location that is in danger
  • It is free to use and easily available
  1. PAWS

Protection Assistance Wildlife Security, PAWS is an artificial intelligence software that helps forest rangers find the traps and snares on their way. This tool allows the forest rangers to be more efficient and active towards the cunning activities of poachers.

PAWS gives enough data about the land’s topography, weather conditions, and roads. It collects the data for the illegal poaching activities that took place in the forest and the national parks. PAWS generates a heat map that displays the area of the national parks and forest indicating the sites that have experienced illegal poaching.

This can help forest rangers identify low and high-risk areas prone to animal hunting. The rangers can look out for areas that have more snares and traps. Instead of going to the same old places to find more snares and traps. This will not only save the energy of forest rangers but will also reduce the number of crimes happening against the endangered animals.

Cambodian rangers have been testing the software since last year at Srepok wildlife sanctuaries and the results are good. Just 24 forest rangers discovered more than 1,000 snares in a short period of time.

The results, when compared to the data before the implementation of AI, shows that technology is helping out the rangers to do their work efficiently.

How Microsoft is contributing to protecting endangered animals

We all know how giant and advance Microsoft has become over the last decade.  According to Microsoft, a researcher, Clayton Lamb at the University of Alberta, Canada, is utilizing the Microsoft Azure tools with artificial intelligence to create a complete analysis of human and environmental factors that are affecting the population of the grizzly bear in British Columbia.

The human habitat is expanding in the areas where grizzly bears lived.  Hence their numbers are decreasing. To keep an eye on the population of the grizzly bears, Clayton uses a GPS collar and DNA sampling.

Scientists in North Carolina have another great approach to protecting another species. In order to protect whales, they’re using marine robotics. With the help of robot sensing machines on Microsoft Azure, they keep track of the health and size data of whales.

Other animals are also tracked. Like elephants and penguins. Researchers and scientists keep a check on their population.

Wrap up

The wildlife researchers and scientists are constantly working on to improve the artificial intelligence system in order to protect wildlife. Artificial intelligence is helping forest rangers analyze forest areas on their own devices. This helps them patrol in the area where situations are critical.

SMART and PAWS together have helped the forest rangers in discovering thousands of snares, vehicles of poachers and their footprints. In the near future, advancements in artificial intelligence can contribute more towards the welfare of wildlife and endangered animals.