From precision tracking technology to sophisticated surveying techniques, five projects in which tech is supporting animal conservation
1. In the genes: rhino DNA
A database of rhinoceros DNA – RhODIS – is increasingly helping to link poachers to individual wildlife crimes. The database has helped courts in Kenya and South Africa to prosecute poachers and people who are illegally trading rhino horn.
2. Bleeps from the deep: tagging sharks
Advances in tracking technology are helping researchers at Ocearch to better understand sharks, whose lives remain something of a mystery. “Previously unattainable data” collected by the marine tracking organisation is improving understanding of the ocean’s apex predators.
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3. A thousand words: camera traps
From Afghanistan to Australia, automated camera traps are being used to glimpse some of the world’s most elusive creatures, including hare-wallabies and snow leopard. The devices take a flash photo whenever an animal triggers an infrared sensor. Their use led to some major discoveries, including recording the first wolverine in California since 1922.
4. Aerial manoeuvres: surveillance drones
Research suggests that counting wildlife using drones is more accurate than traditional methods. With so many species facing extinction, the need for accurate data has never been greater. Various conservancies in Africa are among those to have trialled drones, ‘eyes in the sky’, for their rangers.
5. Listening in: acoustic monitoring
Conservationists have long used sound to study wildlife, from identifying birdsong by ear, to surveying bats using handheld detectors. State-of-the-art remote recorders are now being used to monitor animals and ecosystems, from birds and marine mammals, to fish, amphibians and invertebrates. They literally broadcast useful data about themselves.
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