EVENT to celebrate the International Day for Biological Diversity
Conservation from the Ground Up: Recreational visitors and citizen scientists to help make WildTrack’s Next Big Step…
For more than 15 years, WildTrack’s Dr Zoe Jewell and Dr Sky Alibhai have monitored endangered species to benefit conservation efforts in various parts of the world. Their project is unusual in using only non-invasive approaches to monitoring endangered species. They have taken the ancient art of tracking and adapted it for modern conservation, with a footprint identification technique (FIT) that can identify species individuals, sex and age-class. It’s really conservation from the ground up!
“ConservationFIT is enormously exciting. It unites the unique knowledge of those who work in the field with endangered species and modern technologies that can now identify not just species, but individuals and their sexes. That it does so in a non-invasive way is essential when dealing with animals that are so rare”, Stuart Pimm, Doris Duke Professor of Conservation Ecology, Duke University.
They’ve done this one project at a time, combining data collection in the field with analyses behind the computer using SAS software. ConservationFIT is also partnering with the US Army research office to use their data to reduce the illegal trade in endangered species products.
“I think the programme is an exceptional and timely effort to leverage data from the global community to provide for wildlife security and wildlife welfare”, Dr Stephen Lee, Chief Scientist, US Army Research Office, North Carolina, USA.
Now WildTrack is taking a very big step, launching a conservation crowd-sourcing project for wildlife monitoring anywhere in the world where animals are endangered and human-wildlife conflicts need to be addressed. Their new project, ConservationFIT, is the non-profit’s new portal for zoos, sanctuaries, field biologists, trackers, citizen scientists and recreational visitors to capture and share images of footprints that they have taken either as part of their work, or recreation. The footprints will then be used to monitor and protect the earth’s most at-risk animals. iNaturalist is providing the infrastructure for data to be uploaded and shared globally.
“Our ancestors evolved on the back of their skill at reading footprints. This project has taken elements of that skill and meshed them with cutting-edge technology. We aim to ‘read’ animal distributions better and faster than has previously been possible”, Sky Alibhai, co-Founder, WildTrack.
The project launches today, May 22, 2017, the day the United Nations is observing the 2017 International Day for Biological Diversity.
The day after the launch, WildTrack founders and theoretical ecologist from Duke University Professor Stuart Pimm will celebrate the project launch and put the problem – and the opportunity – in perspective. Join the conversation on Tuesday, May 23, at 10:00 EST in the Theater in the SAS Executive Briefing Center
“This project brings together a unique synergy of ancient bushcraft, modern statistical analysis and citizen-scientists for cost-effective monitoring of endangered species”, Zoe Jewell, co-Founder, WildTrack.