Artificial Intelligence: Protecting Tigers In India

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India’s tigers, which numbered about 3,000 in 2018, live in 51 tiger reserves that span about 74,000 kilometers.

India’s majestic tigers are vulnerable to poachers, injury, accidents and illness, and faced with the threat of a shrinking habitat as humans muscle into their territories. India’s National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has been using AI for helping in the mammoth task of protecting these magnificent animals, but is now looking to take the role of the technology to a new level. (BBC)

The NTCA took 34,858,623 images from camera traps placed in 26,838 locations during its most recent survey of the tiger population in India in 2018. This data was supplemented by visual sightings of tigers and their prey by researchers who travelled hundreds of thousands of kilometers on foot.

The NTCA analyzed this vast trove of data with the help of AI that had been trained to identify different animals, including tigers.

However, now the NTCA is using AI to augment the efforts of the rangers by devising the best routes to patrol for tiger sightings and information on their movements. This will help focus their efforts on the most crucial areas within their vast beat.

Using collected data about the tiger population, its movements, and the local topography, the AI will set out rangers’ patrol routes that will yield the most useful tiger information.

However, the tigers are vulnerable when they come unknowingly into contact with human beings encroaching into forest preserves, or when they are moving from one forested area to another. Meanwhile, poachers too have become more sophisticated and determined.

The poachers have gathered information on rangers’ patrol routes, the location of cameras and regular trails to be avoided.

AVI Foundation chairman Jerryl Banait says his organisation has created an AI system that integrates data from satellites and information from the local population with data from rangers and the cameras.

This hybrid system is technologically more sophisticated and is better able to contribute to the protection of India’s tigers, says Mr Banait.

Related Story: Cameras Powered By AI Help Save Elephants

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