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Nature and technology are generally seen as opposites all over the world; Nevertheless, Singapore and other countries are now taking advantage of the ever-expanding field of artificial intelligence (AI) to conserve nature. The Fin Finder app uses an AI that has learned to identify restricted fin types. Thanks to the program, inspectors armed with a simple smartphone can instantly identify contraband.
Singapore has just launched the Fin Finder app to combat the illegal trade in sharks and rays. Over the years there has been a growing awareness of the need for conservation of sharks and rays. Despite this, over 100 million sharks are killed each year, many of which are murdered to meet the demands of the shark fin trade.
Singapore is a signatory to a global treaty that bans trade in certain endangered sharks and rays, but enforcement is difficult as it is difficult to verify whether fins and dried rays belong to the restricted species.
Singapore has a diverse ecosystem. The Nature Society Singapore (NSS) Singapore Nature Sightings project demonstrated this by asking islanders to upload and share their wildlife sightings using the iNaturalist app. The app’s artificial intelligence capabilities and the company’s network of experts will then identify the flora and fauna spotted.
From April to June 2020, a total of 3,935 observations of 987 different species of flora and fauna were submitted, with plants (30%), birds (30%) and insects (30%) representing the most observations (10%). Fungi, reptiles, mammals, arachnids, amphibians and other animals made up the remaining 30%.
Whales, on the other hand, despite their size, can be elusive and difficult to track. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Fisheries Association (NOAA) has captured the song of the world’s largest mammals to locate marine species using special acoustics.
NOAA collaborated with a cloud computing company in 2018 to develop an AI model capable of distinguishing humpback whale songs. More than 170,000 hours of underwater audio recordings have been analyzed by computers, a treasure trove of data that it would take someone over the age of 19 to listen to even if they were working around the clock. The researchers were able to pinpoint whale behavior in a previously undocumented part of the ocean thanks to this breakthrough.
Similarly, in Zambia, a connected conservation initiative was created to detect poachers. Zambia is home to the 22,400 square kilometer Kafue National Park, considered a haven for wildlife. However, the vastness of the park allows poachers to easily enter and exit and avoid park officials. Illegal fishing is also a concern in the lake next to the park.
The Connected Conservation Initiative monitors the park using infrared thermal cameras, and AI is used to automatically detect boats entering the park’s seas to catch illegal fishing activity. This drastically reduces the number of rangers needed to monitor the cameras, thus improving the protection of the lake.
In addition, the water loss – MapBiomas track was created in Brazil. This nation has lost more than 15% of its surface water since the 1990s, destroying the natural habitats of many animals. The scale of the disaster was revealed through MapBiomas’ use of AI, which was smart enough to distinguish between natural and man-made bodies of water, to analyze more than 150,000 satellite images from 1985 to 2020. The study demonstrated how water fluctuates across the country. over time, underscoring the seriousness of the situation.
It is essential to preserve the biodiversity of the earth to maintain the balance of the whole ecosystem. Therefore, the full integration of AI and ML-based solutions in animal conservation can contribute to terrestrial biodiversity conservation efforts.