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Emerging technologies contribute to wild animal protection

wuzhenwic.org Updated: 2021-11-04

Emerging technologies and advanced equipment like artificial intelligence (AI), cloud technology, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and video surveillance are contributing to protecting wild animals and are expected to play a more crucial conservation role in the future.

At a forum focused on using technology to protect the giant panda's habitat that was held in Dujiangyan, Southwest China's Sichuan province, Ran Hongjiang, expert consultant of the Giant Panda National Park and professor at the College of Life Sciences of Sichuan University, said advanced technology has improved the investigation and protection of the giant panda and helped researchers ascertain the condition of the species. So far, there are more than 1,800 giant pandas under protection in the wild, he said.

Ran has worked in giant panda protection for more than 20 years. He recalled that in the second national giant panda investigation in 1985, compasses and topographic maps were used to find and count the animals. The investigation team would draw a circle on the map when they found a giant panda.

When it came to the third national giant panda investigation between 1999 and 2003, GPS, geographic information systems, remote sensing technology and infrared cameras were used in the investigation. The information was recorded on an iPad. All of these technologies benefited research on giant panda protection.

The new generation of information technology is playing an even more important role in protecting wild animal habitats.

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A giant panda eats at the China Panda Conservation and Research Center Dujiangyan Base in Chengdu, China's Sichuan province, on July 27, 2021. [Photo/IC]

The Sichuan Provincial Bureau of Forestry and Grassland joined hands with Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd. and other companies to develop a real-time monitoring and reporting system based on the Huawei Cloud platform. Covering the entirety of Sichuan, the system is based on data collected by satellite and video surveillance systems, as well as UAVs, and can monitor, summarize and check forest and grassland fires.

Yue Kun, Huawei president of Global Government Business Depart and Enterprise BG, said the system has helped reduce the amount of field work that has to be done by researchers and frontline forest protection personnel in the past five months and optimized forest fire condition reporting, which has saved handling time.

AI also contributes to wild animal protection.

Hou Rong, deputy-director of the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, explained that the base is now working on facial recognition for giant pandas. At present, the facial recognition system can reach an accuracy of over 90 percent.

She added that in the past 21 years, the number of giant pandas at the base increased from 135 to 673, which owes much to the application of comprehensive technologies in nutrition, feeding, breeding and genetic management of the population.

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Newborn giant panda babies in the brood chamber of the Shenshuping Base of China Conservation and Research Center for Giant Panda on Oct 20, 2021 [Photo/IC]

Ahimsa Campos-Arceiz, researcher at the Southeast Asia Biodiversity Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), said digital monitoring technology is key to planning and protecting habitats for wild animals and plants, which has been seen in the recent immigration of wild Asian elephants in Southwest China's Yunnan province.

Wei Fuwen, an academician from CAS, said China has made progress in biodiversity protection, recovery and study. With the participation of high-tech enterprises and non-government organizations, biodiversity protection and management in China will reach a higher level.


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