Indian rangers use artificial intelligence to protect ‘vulnerable’ tigers from poachers

Conservation Rangers in India use the power of artificial intelligence to protect the country’s vulnerable tigers from poachers and other dangers.

Most of the country’s tigers, believed to number around 2,967, live in one of 51 tiger reserves, which cover a large area spanning 45,900 miles.

Quantifying the beautiful creatures is not always easy, and the same can be said for their protection: over the past four years, about 300 people have died as a result of poaching, captures, accidents or conflicts with people.

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The majority of Indian tigers, numbering about 2,967, live in one of the 51 tiger reserves, covering a large area of ​​45,900 miles. AI helps rangers track animal movements

The AVI Foundation has developed an AI that can use data collected by cameras and rangers, combined with satellite data and information from the local population.  The image above is a graph showing the causes of tiger mortality from 2012 to 2020.

The AVI Foundation has developed an AI that can use data collected by cameras and rangers, combined with satellite data and information from the local population. The image above is a graph showing the causes of tiger mortality from 2012 to 2020.

India’s National Tiger Authority has installed camera traps in 26,838 locations to capture over 34 million wildlife images. The researchers also traveled several hundred thousand miles on foot to find tracks of tigers or their prey.

A new AI system under development will provide rangers with the best paths to patrol the extremely wide areas under their surveillance by analyzing data on tiger populations, movements and local topography, the report says. BBC news.

“Artificial intelligence will help rangers solve wildlife crime,” Mohmad Sajid Sultan, assistant inspector general of the NTCA, told the British news agency.

The AVI Foundation has developed an AI that can use data collected by cameras and rangers, combined with satellite data and information from the local population.

India's National Tiger Authority has installed camera traps in 26,838 locations to capture over 34 million wildlife images.  Artificial intelligence can sift through data much faster than any human.

India’s National Tiger Authority has installed camera traps in 26,838 locations to capture over 34 million wildlife images. Artificial intelligence can sift through data much faster than any human.

India has set itself the target of increasing its wild tiger population by 35 percent to 4,000 in the next decade.  The picture above shows a resort in Pench National Park.

India has set itself the target of increasing its wild tiger population by 35 percent to 4,000 in the next decade. The picture above shows a resort in Pench National Park.

Jeril Banait, chairman of the AVI foundation, told the BBC he hopes forest departments across India will use this more sophisticated hybrid technology to better protect wildlife, especially animals that are outside national parks and reserves in the future.

He also noted that poachers have also become smarter – they map pathfinders’ routes, avoid standard trails, and even know where cameras are located.

“Given the limited areas available to wildlife, it is imperative that humans do not interfere with already declining wildlife habitats,” he said.

Technology is useful when combined with rangers on the ground.

“If we cannot expand our network of protected areas and our wildlife corridors, the tiger population is unlikely to increase,” said environmentalist Debi Goenka.

Goenka also said that more people are needed who are better equipped.

“What is really needed is more field patrols and better use of technology for monitoring and protection. The use of drones, camera traps, real-time tracking of poachers and the use of metal detectors to detect snares and traps need to be expanded and stepped up,” he said.

India has set itself a target to increase its wild tiger population by 35 percent to 4,000 in the next decade, which officials say will protect forest biodiversity as well as increase economic benefits, Bloomberg reported.

“Tiger reserves benefit society, the environment and the economy,” said S.P. Yadav, co-CEO of Project Tiger, the state’s conservation program. bloomberg. “Economic benefits will increase in the future.”

However, all this increase in the tiger population can also bring a great danger in the form of human contact.

“Predation on livestock and attacks on people have led to a negative perception of tigers,” Sunil Limaye, chief forest guard at Tadaoba National Park in Maharashtra, told BBC News.

The number of tigers in his state has increased from 312 to 400 in the past four years.

Jeril Banait, chairman of the AVI Foundation, told BBC News he hopes India's forest departments will use this more sophisticated hybrid technology to better protect wildlife.

Jeril Banait, chairman of the AVI Foundation, told BBC News he hopes India’s forest departments will use this more sophisticated hybrid technology to better protect wildlife.

The growth of the tiger population may bring more danger in the form of human contact.  The image above shows the placement of a camera trap in the Kanha Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh, India.

The growth of the tiger population may bring more danger in the form of human contact. The image above shows the placement of a camera trap in the Kanha Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh, India.

Animals are also at risk when they move from one forest area to another, and experts hope AI can help by tracking their movements in these hard-to-reach areas.

“Artificial intelligence still cannot replace human intelligence,” Limaye added.

Pench National Park veterinarian Akhilesh Mishra hopes conservation efforts can prevent tragedies such as the death of one famous tiger, the tigress Bagin nala, a 12-year-old animal found dead in March 2016 in the Pench Tiger Reserve after being poisoned together with her two cubs.

Mishra was able to save the third cub, who was thriving in the reserve and now has cubs of her own: “It was a joyous sight when we raised her in captivity, developing her hunting skills to survive in the harsh forest.”