A team of scientists has been working on a fascinating new approach, one that combines the fields of astronomy with ecology and conservation. While still in the trial phase, the implementation of using an innovative space technology is showing promising results in the field studies conducted by ecologists to monitor endangered wildlife.
Ecologists are looking to use such open-source software to monitor wildlife. In doing so, they could utilize this data to help protect endangered species. It might also contribute to preventing poaching from gaining a foothold within those fragile wildlife communities.
The Modification Brought to Thermal Imaging Space Technology
Researchers with the Royal Astronomical Society and Liverpool John Moores University are behind this new study. First of all, they modified and adapted the thermal imaging technology currently used to detect stars according to their needs. This infrared technology was then incorporated into drones that were then used to monitor wildlife.
By using thermal imaging cameras on drones, scientists can observe animals that would be usually hidden by their environments in an unobtrusive manner.
“Since animals and humans in thermal footage ‘glow’ in the same way as stars and galaxies in space, we have been able to combine the technical expertise of astronomers with the conservation knowledge of ecologists to develop a system to find the animals or poachers automatically,” states Claire Burke, who was part of the study.
There are many benefits to drone technology in tracking animals. Drones do not disturb the ecology and can survey vast swaths of land. They are especially useful in covering areas that would have otherwise been inaccessible to traditional methods.
The use of infrared is particularly helpful as it serves as a form of night vision. During such periods, endangered animals may be more active than during the day. Unfortunately, so could the poachers.
This example of two seemingly unrelated areas of study working together is important as it can be an example of what can be achieved with collaboration.
By incorporating space technology into their methods, ecologists are able to help protect endangered animals in an innovative manner. In utilizing night vision on drones to monitor animal activity, scientists are working on preventing poaching before it occurs. This is drastically different approach from the more common reactive efforts.
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