Satellite-connected remote cameras and crowdsourcing help fight poaching

Instant Wild project camera
© Instant Wild

Conservationists at the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) are getting a helping hand in the effort to stop poaching some of the world's most endangered species, thanks to satellite-connected Raspberry Pi cameras.

Developed by Cambridge Consultants, the new motion-triggered cameras send images of animals (or poachers) over the Iridium satellite network in near-real-time, allowing for early detection of poaching activity and identification of endangered or rare species.

“One of our aims is to stop the killing of animals on a daily basis by poachers. In the last 18 months alone, more than 1,000 rhinos in Africa have been killed as a result of soaring demand for rhino horn products. We need to stop the poachers now before it’s too late.

We are installing cameras in Kenya’s Tsavo National Park to create a safety net of eyes and ears to protect threatened wildlife – and contribute to the efforts of cutting poaching there significantly in the next two years." - Professor Jonathan Baillie, director of conservation programs at ZSL

The camera system, which uses the compact computing power of the Raspberry Pi and is powered by a long-lasting battery, is built to be rugged enough to stand up to animal attacks and extreme weather, and has an LED flash for taking images at night.

As if satellite-controlled, motion-triggered remote cameras for wildlife conservation wasn't enough, the images from the Instant Wild project are not only available to conservationists, but are also sent to a mobile app that allows users to see the photos and then help identify any animals in them. This crowdsourcing effort by the Instant Wild app can help researchers and conservationists by serving as extra pairs of eyes on the remote cameras, thereby cutting down the time needed to monitor them.

"When you identify the wild animal by matching the photo with the relevant image in the Field Guide you save conservationist thousands of hours by helping to sort the images by species group. This enables scientist to analyze the data much faster and assess whether the threatened animals are increasing or decreasing." - Instant Wild

Users can see images from all of the cameras, choose certain ones to "follow" (users get notified when a new image on those cameras is taken), view image details, make lists of their favorite photos, and share notable images via social media.

Find out more about Instant Wild at Edge of Existence.

Satellite-connected remote cameras and crowdsourcing help fight poaching
The combination of Raspberry Pi -based remote cameras and a mobile crowdsourcing app could make a big difference in conservation efforts.

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