The Use of AI and Camera Systems to Monitor Endangered Koalas
The koala population in northeastern Australia faces numerous challenges, and one of the significant issues is accurately establishing their numbers. Counting koalas is a difficult task due to their elusive nature and frequent territory shifts. However, a team led by Professor Jun Zhou from Griffith University has developed a solution using cameras and artificial intelligence (AI) technology.
The project began in July 2021, with 24 cameras strategically placed in “koala crossing locations” within the Brisbane and Redland city council areas. These cameras automatically start recording when triggered by koala movement. The collected images were then used to train an AI to not only detect koalas but also recognize individual animals. This breakthrough allows for continuous monitoring that can be applied to larger areas.
The potential of this technology is significant. By placing 100 cameras in a one square kilometer research region, the entire area can be monitored 24/7. The AI analyzes the captured videos to identify and count koala movements accurately. This system can help identify new koalas in the area, providing valuable information for conservation efforts.
Despite the promising advancements, early estimates from the Redlands project indicate a decline in koala numbers. Urbanization has played a significant role in this decline, with Southeast Queensland being particularly affected. However, the team has received another grant to expand the trial to 10 local government areas.
To ensure the success and widespread adoption of this technology, the involvement of local communities and councils is essential. Although the data capture, transfer, analysis, and reporting are automated, the assistance of people is still required to deploy and maintain the camera network. The goal is to engage local councils and koala conservation communities in this process, allowing them to contribute to the ongoing efforts to protect and monitor koalas.
In conclusion, the use of AI and camera systems provides a viable solution for monitoring endangered koalas. By harnessing the power of technology and community involvement, researchers and conservationists can gain a comprehensive understanding of koala populations and take necessary steps to protect this iconic species.
– Professor Jun Zhou from Griffith University
– Dr. Douglas Kerlin, co-researcher from Griffith University
– Queensland Government (grant funding)
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