A new approach to monitoring endangered species
Species are disappearing at between 100 and 1000 times background rates, under our watch.
Incredibly, scientists still have little idea of exactly where many endangered species range, and what threatens them, either at the local scale, or the landscape scale. Clearly these data are essential if we are to help conserve them, and protect what remains of their natural habitat.
Footprints can help provide answers
ConservationFIT is a new WildTrack project to collect footprints on a larger scale.
Our approach is different. We think of it as ‘Conservation from the ground up’.
Footprints drove early human evolution. Our ancestor’s skills in hunting and avoiding predators were enabled by their understanding of footprints.
Our award-winning and patented Footprint Identification Technique, developed by close observation of expert indigenous trackers in Africa, has borrowed from that ancient art and science and adapted it for modern technology. Wherever an endangered species leaves footprints, we can use those prints to learn about it.
Using simple digital images with complex statistical algorithms, FIT can identify the species, individual, sex and age-class of the animal that made them. These data allow us to figure where many endangered species are, and how best we can help them. To date we have developed FIT algorithms for 15 endangered species ranging from rhino to dormouse.
We’re reaching out to global citizens in all walks of life, with every kind of skill and experience, to help us resolve the species crisis. If you carry a smartphone and see a footprint, you can help us collect data!
Did you know there are 8 billion visits to protected areas around the world each year?
Imagine the data points we could place on the map!
If you work in field conservation project, you’re a tracker, you work at a zoo or you’re someone whose work or recreational activity sometimes leads them into contact with animal footprints – you can help populate our global species map and connect with other like-minded groups to improve the conservation of endangered species.
Through WildTrack’s citizen science project ConservationFIT, we’ll guide you to collect footprints, analyze the footprints you submit to our site, develop FIT algorithms for species, map the animals you’ve helped identify and then work with field projects to help them implement the technique for monitoring.
If you see footprints regularly and are interested in joining us, please contact us
Take a tour through our site here: (in progress).