AI-based camera system detects tigers on prowl

NAGPUR: For the first time, a novel artificial intelligence (AI)-based camera alert system designed to promote coexistence between tigers and humans has been developed in India. The technology, developed by

TrailGuard AI

, can detect a tiger on the prowl and send images instantly to a cell phone in 30 seconds round-the-clock.
The major breakthrough in conservation technology was announced on Thursday by the

Global Tiger Forum


National Tiger Conservation Authority

(NTCA), Clemson University, and the NGO RESOLVE. Mohnish Kapoor, head, programme & partnerships, GTF, said, “It is a real-time technology developed in India where the camera not only clicks the wild animals but also identifies the species of interest.”
For decades, wildlife biologists have dreamt of a ‘smart’ camera-alerting system like TrailGuard AI that can monitor and detect tigers occupying buffer areas close to villages, and send images of tigers, elephants or other conflict-prone species. With 3,682 tigers, India has almost 75% of the world’s tiger population. Over 26% of these tigers are found outside protected areas (PAs), engaging in conflict with communities living on the fringes and buffer areas. This leads to retaliation by villagers.
Camera system can transmit over 2,500 images on single battery charge

Hence, innovative technology promoting coexistence in human dominated landscapes was necessary,” said Mohnish Kapoor.
With Trail Guard AI camera-alert system, for the first time wild tigers and elephants have been detected. The elapsed time from the motion sensor triggered by the passing tiger reaches the designated authorities in less than 30 seconds.
The technology can transmit more than 2,500 images on a single battery charge. Since May 2022, TrailGuard AI has been placed in and around five tiger reserves in sections of two of the most productive tiger landscapes — KanhaPench and the Terai-Arc in North India.

The new technology was prototyped effectively in Africa in the past four years, before being trial tested in India.
This tiny AI-embedded camera-alert system runs powerful computer models onboard the camera to weed out false positives before the transmission of data. First, it was designed to detect poachers, but after adding a new AI algorithm, it detects eight output classes – felids, canids, elephants, rhinos, sloth bears, wild pigs, humans, and a catch-all class of other mammals and large birds. “TrailGuard AI has moved from proof-of-concept to becoming part of the toolbox to reduce man-wildlife conflict. This technology can be spread to the other tiger range states,” said HS Negi, senior advisor, GTF.
According to SP Yadav, member-secretary, NTCA, AI technology can be a boon for wildlife protection and generating forecasts and alerts in interface areas.
“TrailGuard AI provides 24×7 coverage over multiple hotspots of conflict, thus enabling forest management to offset these staffing limitations,” said Ramesh Krishnamurthy, a professor with the Wildlife Institute of India (WII).

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