AI-powered camera traps are helping catch poachers in Africa

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For conservationists in Africa, poaching is problem number one.

And while improvements have been made over the years in monitoring poaching activities on protected land, there are still big problems in holding poachers accountable.

Conservationists will use cameras to monitor what is going on in parks, but often they can only review the footage every few months when they go to replace the batteries. There is only so much manpower and time that can be spent reviewing footage and tracking down poachers.

But now, a new technology is helping conservationists and park rangers monitor and identify poachers in real time, without having to manually go to each camera and review the footage themselves.

Thanks to cameras created by Hack the Planet, a Dutch tech company, footage is downloaded and analyzed automatically so that poachers can be caught in the act – not months and months after the heinous acts are perpetrated.

As reported by

“‘So we developed a smart camera system that can, in real time, track down people or animals in huge remote areas,’ explains Hack the Planet’s engineer, Thijs Suijten.

Solar panels are attached to the camera trap to power it.

It’s then hooked up to a computer which downloads and analyses the images. The best part is that all of this happens in real time so poachers can be caught in the act.

“‘This minicomputer uses artificial intelligence to automatically classify whether there’s an animal, an elephant or human in the photo. And then we use the satellite modem to send that information through space directly to the phones of rangers within minutes.’”

This new technology can be a potential game changer for animal conservation across the continent. What’s more, is that the technology could even be used to preemptively stop poaching before it happens, not just track down those who have already killed endangered animals.

“Hack the Planet have also developed a mobile phone sensor system to help alert rangers to the presence of potential poachers.

“‘If we can detect cell phones in parks then rangers can in real-time see where suspicious activity might be happening in their park, and [can] act upon it,’ [Suijten] adds.”

Time will tell if this camera technology will be expanded for extensive use across Africa for effective poaching prevention.

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* This article was originally published here


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