How 30,000 elephant ‘selfies’ will help train thermal cameras to detect the animals in the wild

Zookeepers have compiled the world’s most extensive collection of thermal images of elephants.

The photos show the elephants in all positions as they play, eat, and roam in their barn at the ZSL Whipsnade Zoo.

Thirty thousand selfies are being used in a conservation project to help save endangered elephants.

Researchers are developing new technology to reduce conflicts between elephants and humans in countries where elephants are free.

Alasdair Davies is a conservation technology specialist at the Zoological Association of London (ZSL).

He said the project has implications for wild elephants and the people who live in Africa and Asia.

The camera can “see” the thermal shape of an elephant – Photo Credit: ZSL

He told B.B.C News: “It can confidently detect elephants at a certain distance – and we want to take it into the field now and bring it into the wild to help wildlife. and communities living next to each other. ”

Thermal imaging databases have been used to train the camera to recognize what an elephant looks like from the heat it radiates.

The camera can detect when an elephant is nearby – even in the dark – and send an alert.

Human-elephant clashes pose a serious threat to the survival of wild elephants in Asia and Africa.

Elephants played a pivotal role in developing the new tech – Photo Credit: ZSL

Humans and elephants are being forced to come into more and more close contact as the population grows and wildlife habitat disappears.

This can end with crops being turned into trash, property damage, and loss of life.

India alone reports 400 people and 100 elephants’ annual dea.ths due to conflicts that arise when elephants damage crops or homes.

Dr. Kate Evans of The Elephants for Africa charity says conflict between humans and elephants is a growing problem.

“Elephants are iconic species, and they are essential to the ecology and economics of many countries, so it is important that we conserve them, however, if you are a self-employed farmer. By providing self-sufficiency adjacent to a national park or protected area, living with elephants costs a lot. ”

The hope is that the new technology will be a sensible solution for wildlife and humans to live in harmony and help protect endangered species.

Thermal camera in operation at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo – Photo Credit: ZSL

But ZSL warns that conservation efforts like these are threatened by the funding crisis affecting UK zoos.

“By 2020, ZSL lost £ 20 million in income due to the closure of the London Zoos and the Whipsnade, and visitors were strictly limited when they opened,” said a spokesman.

Last month, Chester Zoo announced that it was halting some conservation work in Africa and Asia because of Co.vid’s impact on its finances.

Wild Baby Elephants with relaxing music

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