Drones and facial recognition to save koalas

The Australian government has partnered with Flinders University and the Koala Life charity to use drones and facial recognition technology to count and identify koalas.

This non-invasive monitoring technique will be used in a study of koalas from the Kangaroo Island and Adelaide Mount Lofty Ranges to understand their numbers, movements, behavior and physiology, and to assess whether they show signs of stress.

“The use of drones in animal research is widespread in Australia, especially Queensland, to monitor koalas. Until now, the potential impacts on behavior and physiology have not been thoroughly investigated. We are, therefore, one of the few groups that studies this question, ”says Diane Colombelli-Négrel, a researcher at Flinders University. “Through this research, we will be able to determine if this method really has a low impact on koalas and if it can be used in the long term in the future. “

A very different approach to traditional methods.

According to the Minister of Environment and Water, David Speirs, this approach will be very different from traditional methods, which involve individual trapping and tagging of each koala.

“It is very important for us to develop non-invasive techniques to help monitor animals safely, and facial recognition through drone surveillance uses the latest technology to achieve this,” he explains.

“The ability to recognize individual members of a species in the wild will lead to a better understanding of individual movements, as well as population estimates, and this understanding will allow the development of meaningful management strategies. “

In the middle of last year, Queensland researchers began using AI-equipped infrared drones to provide more accurate estimates of the number of surviving koalas in areas affected by the wildfires.

A more reliable and less invasive method

Research has shown that the use of drones and infrared imaging is more reliable and less invasive than traditional techniques for monitoring animal populations, such as people looking at trees or using dogs to smell them. Koala bears.

The same group from Queensland University of Technology (QUT) established an artificial intelligence center last month to expand its work. Grant Hamilton, head of research, notes that the creation of the artificial intelligence center will allow the team to develop the system and work with local groups and organizations, such as Landcare, that can help use drones and thermal imaging detection to monitor areas affected by forest fires for koalas, before transmitting the raw data for analysis.

The system is first tested with Noosa and District Landcare and Watergum, who will conduct drone studies to identify koalas and other endangered species in the region.

Source: .com

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