Many of the world’s animals are vulnerable to extinction due to habit loss, poaching and the like. Megafauna species in Africa and across the globe are facing extinction at rapid rates, so protection is of the upmost concern at the moment. While there have been advances in protection of these animals, they still suffer from severe poaching pressure. As poaching numbers rise, new technology must be created to stop these deadly threats! Those tasked at protecting these animals, such as managers at reserves and sanctuaries, face a number of challenges when it comes to defending parks and its wildlife. Ranger patrols are spread thin and parks are vast, making it hard to gather intelligence data. Not to mention how communications can be poor or even non-existent. Although there are new technologies available these days, they do no good for live animals since most focus on approaches after they’re already killed.

The Leonardo di Caprio Foundation seems to have solved this problem with the release of breakthrough technology called TrailGuard AI that’s built in collaboration with Intel and RESOLVE. The advanced technology that could be lifesaving for many animals takes advantage of advances in AI to stop harmful poachers before they have a chance to kill their prey. Earlier versions of this technology were remote and cryptic camera sensors that were placed along known poacher trails in Tanzania’s Serengeti ecosystem. This proved 24/7 surveillance, with the early cameras sensing movement, taking pictures and sending images to an Operations Room at the Park’s HQ. If a threat was sensed, a rapid response team was sent out.

But many of the images transmitted didn’t have threats, which translated to costly consumption of battery power. The tedious task to change them out by rangers took too much time and effort that could be better spent protecting the animals. That’s where TrailGuard AI comes in. It utiliSes Intel’s Movidius Myraid 2 Vision Processing Unit, which is a state-of-the-art chip that will filter out non-human images so that the device only sends images that contain poachers in it. This change extends batter life to more than a year (from one month).

Once the computer’s algorithm detects a poacher approaching or vehicle, the image is sent to rangers by either a low-frequency radio network or satellite modem. This entire process takes merely seconds to complete, allowing rangers to deploy if a threat is sensed. But TrailGuard is also helpful since it can inform intelligence gathering and provide supplement informant networks with headshots of poachers. This also helps stop illegal snaring if the technology is placed along popular snaring trails. After snare removal, TrailGuard can catch those stripping wildlife out of their homes!

TrailGuard AI will be placed in six different parks in Africa in this year and will soon be utilised at different iconic parks with a poaching problem across the globe. The new technology raises the bar when it comes to anti-poaching efforts. This will help save various animals, including elephants, lions and many more. From 2007 to 2014, there were between 25,000 to 35,000 elephants killed each year for their ivory. Rhino populations
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