Artificial intelligence has been identified as one of the top three emerging technologies in conservation, helping protect species around the world


Copyright: – “Five ways AI is saving wildlife – from counting chimps to locating whales”


There’s a strand of thinking, from sci-fi films to Stephen Hawking, that suggests artificial intelligence (AI) could spell doom for humans. But conservationists are increasingly turning to AI as an innovative tech solution to tackle the biodiversity crisis and mitigate climate change.

A recent report by found that AI was one of the top three emerging technologies in conservation. From camera trap and satellite images to audio recordings, the report notes: “AI can learn how to identify which photos out of thousands contain rare species; or pinpoint an animal call out of hours of field recordings – hugely reducing the manual labour required to collect vital conservation data.”

AI is helping to protect species as diverse as humpback whales, koalas and snow leopards, supporting the work of scientists, researchers and rangers in vital tasks, from anti-poaching patrols to monitoring species. With machine learning (ML) computer systems that use algorithms and models to learn, understand and adapt, AI is often able to do the job of hundreds of people, getting faster, cheaper and more effective results.
Here are five AI projects contributing to our understanding of biodiversity and species:

1. Stopping poachers

Zambia’s Kafue national park is home to more than 6,600 African savanna elephants and covers 22,400 sq km, so stopping poaching is a big logistical challenge. Illegal fishing in Lake Itezhi-Tezhi on the park’s border is also a problem, and poachers masquerade as fishers to enter and exit the park undetected, often under the cover of darkness.

Automated alerts mean that just a handful of rangers are needed to provide around-the-clock surveillance.
Photograph: Game Rangers International

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The Connected Conservation Initiative, from Game Rangers International (GRI), Zambia’s Department of National Parks and Wildlife and other partners, is using AI to enhance conventional anti-poaching efforts, creating a 19km-long virtual fence across Lake Itezhi-Tezhi. Forward-looking infrared (FLIR) thermal cameras record every boat crossing in and out of the park, day and night. […]

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