Listening rather than looking at wildlife to better understand what’s going on

This is an interesting project which helps people to better understand wildlife, biodiversity and the impact that humans are having upon it. Essentially, Drs Johatan Klaminder and Sarab Sethi have assembled technology such as the compact Raspberry Pi computer, wireless connectivity, machine learning and microphones together with cloud computing to be able to monitor wildlife in a very efficient way with the minimum of human intervention.

Listening to wild animals to better understand biodiversity
Listening to wild animals to better understand biodiversity. Infographic by MikeB. This is free to use if you wish.

Dr. Sethi said:

“Monitoring biodiversity – so, which animals are aware in the natural world – is difficult. Historically, it’s been very labour-intensive. People might go out with binoculars looking for birds for hours. We wanted to develop a sustainable, automated solution.”

It appears that they leave the sound recording technology unattended for months and longer because it can run without human attention. It is semiautomated. And it allows them to monitor animals such as ants under the ground without disturbing them. Typically, checking on a subterranean colony of ants involves digging them up or prodding them with something. Recording the sound that they make doesn’t disturb them.

The sounds recorded are then beamed to a computer where they can be analysed instantly by an artificial intelligence system. The system recognises the sounds and songs of species and mammals, reptiles, insects and amphibians.

The system can learn the sounds made by, for example, a happy colony of ants and then compare the sounds which are being made with the database to better understand their mood and behaviour.

The machine learning ability of the technology which is a type of artificial intelligence makes the device more self-sufficient requiring less intervention. For me, it’s like a constant monitoring of wildlife which needs to be done because Dr. Klaminder says that we know little of what happens a few centimetres under the surface of the earth and I must say to the small wild cats such as the African golden cat. These small wild cats are dying out because of deforestation. Even in 2023 we don’t know very much about them.

Imagine the possibility of a wild cat species becoming extinct in the wild or totally BEFORE we understand it.

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