Capturing more than just the moment

Holiday snaps such this as may have more than just the obvious appeal.

Tourists geotagging their wildlife photos while on safari could provide wildlife monitoring data comparable to traditional surveying methods, international researchers say. 

They scanned 25,000 pictures taken by people in 26 tour groups in northern Botswana who had been given small GPS trackers originally designed for tracking pet cats. 

This allowed them to later tag the photographs with location data then filter them to identify the top five predator species – lions, leopards, cheetahs, spotted hyenas and wild dogs. Using computer modelling, they could then estimate densities.

It wouldn’t work in every situation, but has real potential, says lead author Kasim Radiq, from Liverpool John Moores University, UK, and Botswana Predator Conservation Trust.

“If we could combine advances in artificial intelligence and automated image classification with a coordinated effort to collect images, perhaps by partnering with tour operators, we would have a real opportunity for continuous, rapid assessment of wildlife populations in high-value tourism areas,” Radiq says. 

The findings are published in the journal Current Biology.

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