Australian wildlife’s resilience in the aftermath of devastating bushfires is being revealed through innovative artificial intelligence (AI) technology. A collaboration between WWF, Conservation International, and local land managers has collected over 7 million photos from approximately 1,100 sensor-activated cameras in eight bushfire-affected areas across Australia.
These captivating images showcase the incredible journey of vulnerable species, including a wombat mother and her joey, a rare group of echidnas on Kangaroo Island, dingo pups in East Gippsland, and koalas in the Blue Mountains and southeast Queensland.
The Google AI technology, Wildlife Insights, was trained on 4 million images of over 150 Australian animals, which allowed researchers to track their recovery with over 90 percent accuracy.
A standout discovery was the dunnarts on Kangaroo Island, where 90 percent of their habitat had been ravaged by bushfires in 2020. This heartwarming find proves the resilience of nature in the face of adversity.
However, images of koalas roaming the ground rather than staying in trees indicate their ongoing recovery. As they search for new habitats, these ground-dwelling koalas are more vulnerable to predators.
The AI-powered cameras also identified various invasive species, including foxes, feral cats, pigs, and cane toads. This technology is invaluable for quickly identifying threatened species after bushfires, helping to expedite recovery efforts.
Although the project has demonstrated positive signs of wildlife recovery, increased vegetation growth raises the risk of future bushfires.
So, what can we do to help? As Dr. Emma Spencer suggests, the results of this research can help inform future fire events, which are expected to increase due to climate change. This is where you come in!
Get involved with organizations like WWF and Conservation International to support wildlife conservation and habitat restoration efforts. By staying informed and taking action, you can play your part in preserving our precious ecosystems and giving our Aussie wildlife a fighting chance to thrive.
This article by Nicholas Vance was first published by OneGreenPlanet on 8 May 2023.
What you can do
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Fighting for Wildlife supports approved wildlife conservation organizations, which spend at least 80 percent of the money they raise on actual fieldwork, rather than administration and fundraising. When making a donation you can designate for which type of initiative it should be used – wildlife, oceans, forests or climate.