WildTrack has developed a non-invasive Footprint Identification Technique (FIT) which can identify endangered animals at the species, individual, age-class and sex levels. Animals have unique feet, in the same way that humans have unique fingerprints. This allows us to monitor their status and work with decision-makers in environmental and conservation sciences to implement effective policies.Polar bear front view
Using footprints to monitor endangered species is non-invasive and cost-effective. It is therefore a sustainable solution, particularly for elusive species, and sustainability is vital if conservation is to be successful. Moreover, since FIT is based on the ancient tracking techniques used by indigenous trackers, it engages local communities in the conservation effort – this too is generally recognised to be essential to the success of any wildlife conservation effort.
Footprints can be found on a variety of different substrates. This left front footprint image from a Polar bear illustrates the excellent detail which can be obtained, even in snow, one of the most challenging substrates to work with.
WildTrack has projects helping develop and implement FIT across the world, from the Polar bear in the Arctic to the mountain lion in Texas, to the cheetah in Southern Africa…..even the tiny dormouse in the UK.
Helping us in our work are experts in computer vision, statistics, software and design engineering, forensics, biometrics, photography and the life sciences. Why not explore our site and come join us?!
In late 2008, on the eve of a global financial crisis, delegates from the world conservation community met at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Barcelona, Spain. 1800 scientists from 130 countries presented a shocking Global Mammal Assessment containing shocking data: 25%-36% of the world’s mammals, alone, are now threatened with extinction. The meeting concluded by releasing this statement: “The costs of biodiversity losses are not only greater than those of the current financial crisis, but in many cases, the losses are irreparable”. So it’s clear this is a problem we need to deal with quickly and effectively. But how?
Choose an endangered species….. the black rhino, the tiger…..or the tiny common European dormouse. How can we conserve it? We’d obviously need to protect the animals from poachers, habitat destruction, pollution and human encroachment. Perhaps we would also want to provide a sanctuary for them to breed without threat. But where to begin? Most conservationists would agree that the first move is to First determine how many animals there are, and where they are. But, many endangered species are elusive, and difficult to see. They are often found in the last wildernesses on earth, in remote places. Common wildlife monitoring methods can be expensive and thus unsustainable, and invasive techniques, such as radio-collaring, trapping/immobilization and marking can have negative effects on the very animals they are designed to protect.