Pashu Sandesh, 30th November 2018
India has the vast area of Forest and huge population of Wild Animals which are constantly under threat from poachers and human encroachments often leading to devastating consequences. We have a separate Ministry looking after Forest affairs and myriad number of Agencies for the same. What we lack is the man force working on the ground covering such large area and the Tech support. Thankfully there are Technologies which are coming up to the rescue of the Wild Animals. The only need is early adaptation and implementation of these technologies. Some of the useful technologies are listed below.
DNA analysis tools:
Recently there was a workshop in Chennai for the wildlife workers regarding the usefulness of the DNA analysis hand held instruments. DNA analysis of blood or saliva samples to identify protected wildlife is especially useful when traffickers are trying to pass off a protected species as another animal. Oxford Nanopore, a company specialising in products that analyse the DNA molecules of any living thing cheaply and simply, and outside the traditional laboratory environment is developing devices which cold give results on the ground.
Surveillance by drones:
Sariska Tiger Reserve and Kaziranga National Park in Assam have done pilot projects on the surveillance of the Wild animals using drones. The process is yet to be adopted on large scale pending clearances from the authorities. Drones can be proved efficient at catching poachers than ranger patrols alone. Carrying thermal imaging and mapping equipment, plus day and night-capable cameras, their video images can be monitored on the ground in real time. Drone images can also be used to provide regular monitoring of remoter areas, including a wildlife census and vegetation analysis.
Audiomoth literally eavesdrop on the Forest sounds by using machine learning to “train” the equipment to pick out and record only relevant sounds such as a particular animal sounds, gunshots and wood cutting. Developed by PhD students at the universities of Southampton and Oxford, the equipment sends an alert to a ranger station so patrols can be sent out immediately.
Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool (SMART):
It’s being used at 2,000 sites globally to monitor populations of elephants, snow leopards, rhinos and dolphins. It was developed by WWF, the London and Frankfurt zoos, and the Wildlife Conservation Society. SMART enables conservation teams to collect, analyse and transmit data on wildlife, illegal activities and protection patrols, leading to better targeted resources and more agile responses. The system is constantly updated with user input, for example, it can now carry out biological surveys, where conservation teams collect data on wildlife populations and condition.
Illicit Fund Tracker:
A startup RisikoTek, based in Singapore, has developed software to trace illicit funds from trafficking through the financial system. It uses complex data analytics and algorithms to detect criminal patterns within the data. Algorithms link data from NGOs, media reports, trade and corporate sources to help identify criminal entities and their networks. The information can then be used by banks, who can add in their own data to track payments made by or to the suspected criminals.
Adoption of the technology should be fast and result oriented. Wild Life Institute of India can work in this direction and tie up with the IITs and other institutes to develop softwares and equipments specifically designed for Wild life conservation purpose. Only a collective and genuine effort equipped with the latest cutting edge technology can prove to be a game changer in the effort for Wild Life conservation.